Weekend question I: What would you have done if you were Stupak?

UPDATE, 3/27, 1:17a: Available on the West Coast already, here is Kathleen Parker's response, to be published Sunday in the Washington Post, to Stupak's op ed (which had been written in response to Parker's 1st brilliant, must read column).

weekend question.jpg3/26, 10:26p: Read Congressman Bart Stupak's 3/27 op ed in the Washington Post on page 2.

What do you think? Do you accept Stupak's premise? If so, what would you have done if you were in his shoes?

Washington Post

"Why I wrote the 'Stupak amendment' and voted for health-care reform"

by Bart Stupak

Saturday, March 27, 2010; A13

When I saw that Kathleen Parker's March 24 op-ed, "Stupak's original sin," defined me as a "backstabber," it reminded me of a Bible verse. Matthew 7:3 asks, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"

The true motives of many blogs and organizations claiming to be pro-life have become clear in recent days: to politicize life issues as a means to defeat health care reform. One group even sent an e-mail to supporters saying they are "working feverishly to stop this legislation from going forward."

The pro-life groups rallied behind me - many without my knowledge or consent - not necessarily because they shared my goals of ensuring protections for life and passing health-care reform but because they viewed me as their best chance to kill health-care legislation.

Last November, an amendment I introduced succeeded in making sure the House health-care-reform bill contained the current law prohibiting public funding for abortions. I was disappointed that the Senate could not pass my language and only mustered 45 pro-life votes, far short of the 60 votes needed to keep the amendment intact.

Many of my Democratic pro-life colleagues and I worked tirelessly in the days leading up to the final House vote on health-care reform to strengthen the legislation's restrictions on abortion funding. We proposed numerous procedural and legislative options, but ultimately all of our efforts required the 60 votes we could not obtain in the Senate.

Once it was clear that the House leadership would eventually obtain the 216 votes necessary to pass health-care reform, I was left with a choice: Vote against the bill and watch it become law with no further protections for life or reach an agreement that prevents federal funding for abortions.

Therefore, I and other pro-life Democrats struck an agreement with President Obama to issue an executive order that would ensure all Hyde Amendment protections would apply to the health-care reform bill. No, an executive order is not as strong as the statutory language we fought for at the start. We received, however, an "ironclad" commitment from the president that no taxpayer dollars will be used to pay for abortions.

Throughout history, executive orders have carried the full force and effect of law and have served as an important means of implementing public policy. Perhaps the most famous executive order was the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. More recently, in 2007, President George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13435, restricting embryonic stem-cell research. This executive order protected the sanctity of life and was "applauded" and "welcomed" by pro-life advocates. That these same people would now claim that President Obama's executive order maintaining the sanctity of life is not worth the paper it is written on is disingenuous at best.

Some, including Parker, have criticized Obama's executive order as unenforceable in the courts and therefore just a "fig leaf." Yet the language that critics point to is standard language with any executive order, including Bush's ban on embryonic stem-cell research. Again, many of these pro-life groups did not express concern over the Bush language but claim it is unacceptable under Obama.

To further protect against federal funding for abortion, during floor debate on the health-care reform bill I engaged in a colloquy with Rep. Henry Waxman to make clear congressional intent that the provisions in the bill, combined with the executive order, will ensure that outcome. Such colloquies are often referred to in court cases when an attempt is being made to determine Congress's intent. This, too, was no minor concession by those opposed to our efforts, and it is a tremendous victory for those protecting the sanctity of life.

I have said from the start that my goal was to see health-care reform pass while maintaining the long-standing principle of the sanctity of life. The president's executive order upholds this principle and current law that no federal funds be used for abortion. I and other pro-life Democrats are pleased that we were able to hold true to our principles and vote for a bill that is pro-life at every stage of life and that provides 32 million Americans with access to high-quality, affordable health care.


I would have asked myself what the definition of freedom was and how this bill destroyed freedom.

Contrary to Stupak's stupid and stereotyping conclusion that pro-lifers are against health care, we are in fact, in favor of health care, for all. However, just in case he didn't know it, from Barack Obama's point of view, this was not about health care but about an opportunity to grab power. The President didn't even read the bill as is evident by what it doesn't cover.

Just like "abortion rights are woman's rights" BS, and "choice" propaganda, this bill is solely about power.

Mr. Stupak, you were used and duped because you basically are a fence sitter.

Posted by: Phil Schembri is HisMan at March 26, 2010 10:50 PM

It's very difficult for me to say what I would have done in his shoes, because I can't ever picture *being* in his shoes. I would never vote for such an expansion of governmental control.

The fact that Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards appears to know more about this health care bill and its loopholes for abortion funding than Bart Stupak is rather telling.

He is feeling the heat and is basically trying to lay blame elsewhere, and paint pro-lifers as the bad guys. Whatever. We weren't the ones who rolled over and played dead at the last, most crucial moment when it counted, and he knows it. You are darn right, Mr. Stupak, that we wanted to see *this particular* health care bill killed, because it is a bad bill. We are all for helping those less fortunate, both born and unborn, but this power grab was really beyond the pale, and the majority of the American people know it.

Paint us as the bad guys if you will, but we will sleep with clear consciences. If you could say the same, I doubt you'd be playing defense with such fervor...

Posted by: Kel at March 26, 2010 11:03 PM

I'm not buying this at all.

Stupak's premise that "Once it was clear that the House leadership would eventually obtain the 216 votes necessary to pass health-care reform ..." is not true. Had he and his band of holdouts actually held out, I don't see how the bill would have passed. The vote was 220-207.

Some reports report Stupak's group was as many as 11 people. Time magazine reports he had six others and that HE WAS THE ONE WHO CHANGED HOW THIS WENT DOWN: "Flanked by six other pro-life Dems, Stupak finally brought an end to the suspense: he and his group would vote for health care reform, throwing Democrats over the 216 threshold of votes needed to pass the bill."


So let's do the math and assume there were only Stupak and six others for a total of seven. Here's the count if those seven voted on the no side:

Yes: 220-7=213
No: 207+7=214

Time magazine got it right.

So to Bart Stupak I say this: Based on the above reported information, it is my considered opinion that you are a BACKSTABBING, lying, sleazy politician who is desperately trying to fool people once again. As such, you will have to answer to those who elected you for your unfaithfulness, and you will have to answer to God for those children who will be ripped to shreds or burned alive because you abandoned them when you had a chance to do the right thing.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Posted by: Tom Ambrose at March 26, 2010 11:17 PM

If I were Stupak, I'd have done what he did. But I'm not Stupak. But if I was faced with the same situation, I would have prayed hard. And asked God to help me. And then I would have voted against this bill, no matter what my party wanted. I don't care how much pressure anybody put on me. The only Person I'm answerable to in the end is God.

But I wouldn't be in Stupak's situation on that fateful weekend because I left the Democratic party two years ago when I woke up and realized I'd been deceived. I've asked the Lord to forgive me for the sins of my past, including my political past. Thank God He is the God of Mercy.

Posted by: Disciple at March 26, 2010 11:33 PM

Hey D:

U da man or da woman, right on!

Posted by: Phil Schembri is HisMan at March 26, 2010 11:37 PM

Hi, Phil. :) And I da woman. Thanks. ;)

Posted by: Disciple at March 26, 2010 11:40 PM

I would have voted against the bill. Without specific language stating no federal funding would go towards abortion, I'd vote NO! Sadly he didn't and I hope he loses his seat to a REAL pro-life congressman or congresswoman.

Posted by: Gavin Millar at March 27, 2010 12:03 AM

I can't get my mind around Stupak's logic.
Health care can be/could have been reformed outside this new set of laws. So he didn't have to accept a huge expansion of abortion. He could have kept fighting for Hyde-like language to be included as law in the bill, and let it be defeated to be improved for another day.

That's what I would have done. Granted, considering the pressure he was under, I could have only done it with a ton of God's grace.

The hysteria surrounding this bill, like it was the ONLY possibility of fixing things in our health care, was unfounded, and Stupak went in for the mania.

Stupak needed to take the long view and vote his conscience without compromise. Frankly, I'm still heartsick about it all.

Posted by: Mary Ann at March 27, 2010 12:11 AM

First, I would have called my fellow Pro-Life Democrats into a meeting and told them how disgusted, sick and miserable I felt having the same political party affiliation as BO, who is without a doubt the most pro-abortion, genocidal, narcissistic president in the history of our country. I would have challenged them as Pro-Life Congressmen that we could no longer sit idly by as he rammed his pro-death agenda down the throats of the American people.

We had to act.

I would have compelled them that as elected representatives of our constituents, we could not in good conscience support Obamacare. The Bill was so unpopular, I would have reminded them that we had an obligation to vote the will of the people that put us in office.

Third, I would have reminded them of the oath we made when we took office to defend our Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic and that the financial burden of this Bill could have a catostrophic impact on our economy.

Furthermore, I would have used recent Democratic losses at the polls, including Ted Kennedy's seat in MA, as examples of how the political winds are changing in America. I would have pointed out the radical pro-death and socialist agendas in the Democratic party made it impossible me to complete my term as a Democrat. I would have become a Republican and would have implored my colleagues to do the same.

Posted by: Ed at March 27, 2010 12:21 AM

Take the word of the man with a history of outrageous, pro-abortion community activism?

My choice is easy. Vote against any bill without unborn rights protection.

Posted by: Joseph at March 27, 2010 1:36 AM

I thought your readers might be interested in this. Five years ago Paul Melanson exposed the liberal agenda to discredit Pope Benedict XVI - then Cardinal Ratzinger!

His post is at:

Posted by: Ann Duclos at March 27, 2010 7:03 AM

I don't know that I, in his shoes, would have done the right thing. However that doesn't mean the right thing to do suddenly gets all complicated and unknowable, even in the cases where it's a hard thing to do.

Stupak has to know that a vote of 219-212 means that if he and his eight votes had held out, the bill would not have passed. Pelosi didn't have 216 and couldn't have gotten it without him. Everybody can do that math. And he's said himself that this Executive Order is the Nelson language again, which he has described as allowing tax money for abortions and unacceptable. Without getting all Law & Order, was he lying then or is he lying now? Furthermore, his comparison of this Executive Order to Bush's Order restricting ESCR is telling. One of the very first things Obama did in office was to get rid of that Order. Stupak knows how easily an EO can be striken, but he's placing his faith in having one upheld by a man who's been striking the ones protecting life right, left, and center.

And that's just the abortion side of things. We're not even going into the fact that the government has managed, in less than two years, to gain control over the housing market, banks, the auto industry, and now the medical industry. And has done it by interposing federal power over personal liberty in ways that make the Constitution look more like Pirate's Code in terms of potency.

Of course he should have voted no. Health care reform could have been something that genuinely did good for the American people. Instead it's a government fiat that takes away liberties and murders children. All his excuses ring hollow.

Posted by: Keli Hu at March 27, 2010 7:08 AM

I thought your readers might be interested in this. Five years ago Catholic Blogger Paul Melanson exposed the liberal agenda to discredit Pope Benedict XVI - then Cardinal Ratzinger!

His latest post is at:

Posted by: Ann Duclos at March 27, 2010 7:09 AM

So basically Bart had to choose between Jesus or Barabbas.

Good grief.

Posted by: carder at March 27, 2010 7:10 AM

If they had the votes without you, why did you do it? You could have stayed true to your principles. Since they ended up with 219 either they did not have the votes and needed you or they let other Dems off the hook as Tanner in TN who would have voted for it if they needed him.
But you trusted the most pro abortion president and allowed the EO to be drafted by the former counsel to PP. I would say you caved completely and could not stand up to the pressure and/or they found the right number for you. Now you have a challenge from the right and left. You certainly know that this EO will be thrown out in court but do you care.
You need to fear God more than man and power is fleeting.

Posted by: Susie at March 27, 2010 7:11 AM

We are entering Holy Week. I just read the column by Kathleen Parker about Stupak and she nailed it. Stupak was like Peter in the Garden who panicked and abandoned Jesus and denied knowing him after first being willing to fight for Him. Like Peter he was weak at the moment he should have been strong. Will he like Peter repent and become strong? It sure doesn't look like it. It seems he has decided that his pro life principles are expendable for fleeting power and with two challenges to his seat, one from the left and one from the right, he may find out what a "has been" is.

Posted by: Susie at March 27, 2010 7:30 AM

I too am heartsick and agree with nearly every post above mine.
The thing that's always been hard to understand here is that even though we pro-life advocates would like to see abortion stopped completely--made illegal--and invoke God's blessing on America--this bill was not about that. It was only about tax dollars--public funding of abortion. And yet Stupak could not stand strong. I truly believe Pelosi had some real sweet deal for Stupak that "no one will ever know"--OR a threat of equal and opposite proportions. Muslims now are propagating about 8 children per family, and Americans are down around the 2.1 level. Maybe there's a clue there.

Posted by: Marcia at March 27, 2010 8:30 AM

This is totally off topic, but considering all the Sarah Palin fans out there, I must mention it.

I love the black leather jacket she's wearing while she stumps for McCain (which I don't totally get, the other guy is more conservative). I like black because to me it indicates that she means business. It's contemporary, cool and adds to her relatable charm.

Fashion experts will probably lambaste my opinion but I think she's so popular she's going to create what's fashionably acceptable anyway.

Posted by: Ed at March 27, 2010 8:43 AM

That's the first time I've ever commented on anyone's wardrobe, and could be the last!

Posted by: Ed at March 27, 2010 8:45 AM

We could have argued against him that he was simply mistaken, a gentle but real argument, but instead he has forced us to say he betrayed the unborn and is just playing political games ultimately in defense of the party of death.

He starts off all wrong by taking the "plank in your eye" approach. Then he makes it all about the health care bill. He make pro-lifers out to be phonies by claiming that they only wanted to knock down the bill because they're against heath care. That discredits his attempts to show his "real concern" for pro-life issues. He turned his post, which could have been a sincere attempt to explain his pro-life efforts, into political posturing.

Stupak was about passing the health care bill more than anything else.

Posted by: Michael at March 27, 2010 9:39 AM


Peter did not become strong until after Pentecost and he saw Jesus after the resurrection.

Perhaps Stupak has experienced neither.

Posted by: Phil Schembri is HisMan at March 27, 2010 11:59 AM

If I were Stupak, I would have behaved like a real Catholic (and follow the teachings of the Catholic Church on human life) and an authentic Knight of Columbus, whose duty it is to support innocent unborn life.

Stupak did not cave into pressure, but readily admitted in a video clip that he planned all along to vote for this horrific bill from the very beginning.

Stupak is nothing like St. Peter -- he purposely held out for his own selfish interests.

Posted by: Jean at March 27, 2010 12:57 PM

Stupak is much more like Judas than St. Peter.

Posted by: Jean at March 27, 2010 1:19 PM

RE: Palin... Ed, are you in AZ? I don't know anyone here who isn't confused... or assumes she's just being loyal. Hayworth for Senate!!

Posted by: Elisabeth at March 28, 2010 10:13 AM

Hey Elizabeth,

No, I'm up in MI.

I saw Hayworth make some comments and he seems to be taking it in stride. He said he will welcome her support after he wins the primary.

She is a shrewd politician. She's probably concerned that endorsing Hayworth would cause some division in the Republican Party. By supporting a Tea Party candidate, she would also set herself up to be portrayed by the liberal media as more of an extremist.

I'd bet she's privately hoping Hayworth wins so she can throw her support behind him.

In interviews with McCain, she typically carries the conversation. He's a decent guy, just past his prime.

Posted by: Ed at March 28, 2010 2:37 PM

Is it just me, or does Mr. Stupak come off as petulant and whiny? He complains about the pro-life groups that rallied behind him "without my knowledge or consent" and claims that they were politicizing life issues as a way of defeating this bill. Well, duh. Of course they were (trying to defeat this bill, that is). Because they believed then and believe now that the federal funding of abortion was at stake.

Mr. Stupak then goes on to label the pro-life contention that President Obama's EO is not worth the paper it is written on as "disingenuous." Excuse me, Mr. Stupak? Pot meet kettle anyone?

And is Mr. Stupak really naive enough to believe this particular president's "ironclad" commitment? The man who couldn't bother to vote against partial birth abortion and whose first executive order as president was a reversal of the Mexico City Policy? Who is being disingenuous now?

Note to Mr. Stupak: pro-lifers were behind you because they thought you would protect life. Period.

Posted by: Nerina at March 28, 2010 7:01 PM

Well, J.D. is pretty Republican. We had some more minor "tea party" type candidates as well, but they simply don't have the financial backing or name recognition necessary.

I've known J.D. since I was a little girl and I look forward to seeing him as our Senator. I love Jon Kyl, also. As for John McCain, I think he's just not effective anymore. Obama treats him like a child, which leads all of the Democrats to do the same. He's obviously tired and worn out, as well. I think it's time for a younger man to take his place... and that doesn't say anything "against" John... it's just time.

Posted by: Elisabeth at March 29, 2010 12:30 AM


Great Post!

Let's focus on Black Bart's statement here:

"Throughout history, executive orders have carried the full force and effect of law and have served as an important means of implementing public policy. Perhaps the most famous executive order was the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. More recently, in 2007, President George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13435, restricting embryonic stem-cell research. This executive order protected the sanctity of life and was "applauded" and "welcomed" by pro-life advocates. That these same people would now claim that President Obama's executive order maintaining the sanctity of life is not worth the paper it is written on is disingenuous at best."

This is representative of the theme running through his article. Black Bart isn't trying to deceive us so much as he is trying to deceive himself. The two executive orders quoted differ from the one he sought, and gained, in that they did not attempt to nullify existing law-a process Constitutionally reserved to the legislature and the courts.

In the case of the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln recognized that an executive order could NOT override the Constitution by freeing slaves in states of the Union, such as Maryland and Kentucky, as these were Constitutionally guaranteed rights. However, in his Constitutional capacity of Commander-in-Chief he reasoned that the Confederate States, having seceded, had no claim upon the U.S. Constitution, and therefore no rights. The EP only freed slaves of the Confederacy as a means of depriving the CSA of their labor base.

Therefore, Stupak gets it badly wrong on the EP as an EO.

In the stem cell ban, President Bush was blazing new territory, and was ahead of the Congress on this issue. There was no Congressional law being abrogated, no Constitutional right being abrogated. Bush wasn't addressing the legality of ESC research, but only what the Federal Government was willing to pay for.

Again, Stupak gets it badly wrong.

Black Bart voted in favor of Hillary Clinton's initiative to broaden American-sponsored abortion in third world nations. He voted twice to block bills that would defund Planned Parenthood.

He came to this issue with blood all over his hands. He announced last November that he would vote for Obama's bill with or without anti-abortion language. In so doing, he signaled Obama that there was no real principled opposition to the final vote. In our hearts, we were desperate for someone, ANYONE, to block this legislation, in part because of its sponsorship of abortion. We hoped and prayed that even one with blood on his hands would possibly come to his senses.

We were wrong.

We were wrong to vest so much faith in such a man (though not wrong to hope).

What did we learn? We learned that there is no such thing as a pro-life block in the Democrat Party worth courting or cultivating. They simply used our time and dissipated our energies. Raw power is all they know, or respect. They need to experience the raw power of the electorate come November.

The Republicans are only marginally better. However, they will in all likelihood be given another chance at power. If they blow it this time, they'll be in the wilderness for a very long time.

Black Bart has betrayed us all, especially his Catholic roots. Worst of all, he betrayed himself.

I pray that this man lives a VERY long life, well into his nineties, to see and loathe the evil that he has helped to unleash, and which was his to stop. When he finally meets Jesus, I pray for him the mercy that he has denied for countless babies who will be slaughtered because of this man's votes.

Posted by: Gerard Nadal at March 29, 2010 2:22 AM

Hello my prolife friends. Been very busy these last 2 weeks so could only read and try to follow what is happening occasionally.

I must say I along with many of you fasted and prayed against this pro-abortion pro-death healthcare takeover bill that does nothing to really address bringing down cost, prevention of disease and helping us have a stronger, healthier America. This bill is about control, socialized medicine, "transforming America" into a socialized EU country, BHO and Democratic party paying off their lobbyest and supporters especially the lawyers (who Huckabee explained have given more than any other group to his election) and also PP, and it is about abortion-on-demand" becoming the law of the land under every circumstance. My heart is heavy for my country, for my children and their future children, for the pro-life movement, for traditional families ( Mike Huckabee explained there is a marriage penalty included in this bill for small business owners who make over $200,000 they will pay a tax penalty if their spouse makes over $50,000-total income for the couple $250,000, for those who cohabit they can make $400,000 without penalty in their businesses).

Jill, Ed, Gerard, Susie, Phil and others I will pray for you, please pray for me I am indeed discouraged but not destroyed (as the Apostle Paul wrote). Does anyone beside myself sense that the emboldening of BHO is helping to usher in the second coming of our Lord. My heard bleeds for my country and this world as the agenda of our President is so closely aligned to destroying the moral fabric and Judeo-Christian principles this country was founded on. The motto of the President and the Democratic Chicago-style thug machine that rammed this bill through seems to be the old 1970's motto "by any means necessary", if I am not mistaken, I think this is an old quote from Malcolm X when he was a part of The Nation on Islam, before he was murdered by his own "brothers", followers of Elijah Muhammad. God please help our nation.

Has anyone noticed the timing of the attacks against Pope Benedict with the healthcare takeover and the dismantling of the military with banning "Don't ask don't tell? The anti-Christian spirit is alive but "greater is He that is in us (Christ-followers) than he that is in the world".

Posted by: Prolifer L at March 29, 2010 1:01 PM

please pray for me I am indeed discouraged but not destroyed
Posted by: Prolifer L at March 29, 2010 1:01 PM

Will do :) Please do not be discouraged. This is what those in power want from you. The road to repeal is a long one and the opposition is counting on you to weary along the way. Please remember that much can be done to thwart implemention of the new law, so take heart!

Posted by: Fed Up at March 29, 2010 3:41 PM

Thanks Fed Up, I really appreciate it. God bless you.

Posted by: Prolifer L at March 29, 2010 4:15 PM

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