ACRU Senior Fellow Ken Blackwell wrote this column appearing on Townhall.com on March 25, 2010.
Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) gave Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) a kiss on the cheek on Sunday, just before Stupak stunned pro-lifers by leading his group of previous holdouts in voting for the largest expansion of abortion-on-demand since Roe v. Wade. That’s what the just-signed ObamaCare bill means.
Stupak, of course, was the author of the Stupak Amendment that passed the House in November with 240 votes, 64 of them coming from pro-life Democrats like Stupak himself. Weiner is one of the most liberal—and most pro-abortion—members of a militantly pro-abortion congressional majority. Weiner had good reason to give Stupak that kiss of death.
Stupak, a nine-term, pro-labor congressman from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, had come to prominence only last November. That was the dramatic moment when he offered his amendment to the House version of health care reform. As Stupak himself explained hundreds of times, only his language could really erect a firewall between the U.S. Treasury and Planned Parenthood’s killing machine.
Only with the protections of the Stupak Amendment, every pro-lifer understood, would the deeply held convictions of tens of millions of Americans be honored. Nearly 70% of Americans oppose being forced to pay for the slaughter of innocents with their tax dollars.
It is most likely that health care would never have passed the House the first time without the Stupak Amendment. But the Senate version of the Stupak Amendment went down to defeat, 45-55.
Scott Brown’s amazing election in Massachusetts made sure that the only the version of health care reform that could be taken up by the House of Representatives would be the bill the Senate passed on Christmas Eve, before Brown’s special election. That Senate-passed bill, everyone knew, contained no protections against the funding of abortion.
In the heat of legislative battle, Stupak came under tremendous pressures. From the Speaker, from the White House, from his fellow Democrats, from the Left generally, from the liberal media. He described the death threats and vile emails and phone calls his office was receiving in January and February as “a living hell.”
Bart Stupak already knows about living hell. He lost a teenage son, Bart Jr., to suicide ten years ago. Anyone who has ever had such a loss in his family knows the deep wound that only time and God’s grace can heal. Bart Stupak’s dignity and humanity at that terrible time won him a host of admirers.
When the heat became most intense on Sunday, Bart Stupak locked the doors of his congressional offices and didn’t answer phone calls. He emerged with the promise of an Executive Order from President Obama, that he claimed would prevent federal funding of abortion.
Congressman Stupak had to know that promise was worthless. Planned Parenthood—whose boss Cecile Richards proclaimed the passage of ObamaCare a “victory!”—surely knows that promise is worthless. She attended the signing ceremony in the White House for ObamaCare. She is “celebrating” this cash windfall.
An Executive Order surely cannot override a legislative enactment. Numerous courts have already spoken on this point. Unless a congressional enactment specifically bans abortion, it will be funded. That was the whole point of the Hyde Amendment. It was, we all knew, the whole point of the Stupak Amendment.
Stupak based his vote for ObamaCare on a “pro-life” Executive Order from a President who has never signed anything truly pro-life. Every act of his new administration has been pro-abortion. Every appointee named and confirmed has been pro-abortion. The only pro-life person ever tapped by President Obama was Rick Warrenand he was gone by 1 pm on Inauguration Day. Every other statement of this administration has been pro-abortion.
How unspeakably tragic for Bart Stupak! He will be known for this and only for this. Nothing he has ever done will change this. As the Washington Post’s Kathleen Parker memorably said: “When all the power of the moment was in his frail human hands, he dropped the baby.”
The best response to Stupak’s fall might come from John Greenleaf Whittier. The New England poet wrote in anguish when his hero Daniel Webster voted to permit slave-catchers to stalk the streets of Boston:
Revile him not, the Tempter hath
A snare for all;
And pitying tears, not scorn and wrath,
Befit his fall!
There will be no signing ceremony for that worthless Executive Order. No photographs. No celebrations. No souvenir signing pens. It is not so only a dead letter; it is a death letter. Bart Stupak’s betrayal has earned him nothing but sorrow and pitying tears.