Last night, Rachel Maddow observed that the number of Democratic lawmakers who have joined Rep. Bart Stupak’s (D-MI) crusade to bring down health care reform unless Congress amends the Senate bill’s abortion language, keeps shrinking. Stupak began the debate with that 15 to 20 supporters, then that number fell to “at least 12,” and as of yesterday, it’s dwindled even lower. A senior House aide told Maddow, “We do not see more than four or five members standing with Bart when this bill is actually brought to the floor.”
Indeed, it seems like a shrinking number of moderate Democrats are willing to take part in Stupak’s effort to lie about the provisions in the Senate bill in order to strip abortion coverage from private health insurance. On Tuesday, Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI), “a ‘yes’ vote on reform who backed the Stupak language,” told reporters that “the Senate language will restrict the federal funding of abortions and that he’ll probably vote for the final bill” and today, Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA), who also supported the Stupak language, said that the Senate bill does not spend federal dollars on abortion:
ALTMIRE: I am pro-lifer. I voted for the Stupak amendment and I’m not going to support a final bill that allows one penny of tax payer funding to be used for abortion. There is no question, the Stupak amendment was air tight. It was much cleaner and it was something that you could not dispute at all. The Senate bill is worded awkwardly, it is not written in a good way. But I am not convinced that it allows taxpayer funding of abortions. It doesn’t go as far as Stupak clearly it’s not as air tight as Stupak….I still haven’t seen good evidence that the Senate language, as is, allows a taxpayer funding for abortion. It could be worded better and less awkwardly, but I don’t know if there is even an indirect abortion funding in it.
Altmire’s tone is important. He’s admitting that the Senate bill is in fact a compromise that doesn’t go as far as the Stupak amendment, but still maintains current law. Meanwhile, pro-choice groups are arguing that the Senate bill goes too far in restricting women’s access to abortion coverage. On Tuesday, “a coalition of more than 50 women’s rights groups wrote Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Obama to ask for major revisions to the Senate bill because the current restrictions impose “unacceptable obstacles for women who wish to purchase insurance that includes abortion coverage and for plans that wish to offer it.'” “We are calling on you to make improvements that would ensure that under reform, women will not lose the private health insurance coverage for abortion that they now have,” the groups wrote.
With both sides objecting to the Senate bill, it’s become difficult for Stupak and his gang of four (or five) to perpetuate the fundamentally dishonest claim that the Senate bill spends federal dollars to fund abortions. As a result, honest pro life advocates have begun to admit the truth.