Bart Stupak, hostage-taker:
Mr. Stupak insists that the final bill include his terms, which he says merely reflect current law. If he prevails, he will have won an audacious, counterintuitive victory, forcing a Democratic-controlled Congress to pass a measure that will be hailed as an anti-abortion triumph. If party members do not accept his terms — and many vow they will not — Mr. Stupak is prepared to block passage of the health care overhaul.
“It’s not the end of the world if it goes down,” he said over dinner. He did not sound downbeat about the prospect of being blamed for blocking the long-sought goal of President Obama and a chain of presidents and legislators before him. “Then you get the message,” he continued. “Fix the abortion language and bring the bill back.”
Mr. Stupak says his stand is a straightforward matter of Roman Catholic faith, but it also seems like the result of a long, slow burn. As dinner progressed, the congressman described years of feeling ignored, slighted or marginalized by his party for his anti-abortion views.
“We’re members without a party,” he said. “Democrats are mad at you, and Republicans don’t trust you.”
The expansion of health insurance contained in this bill will save lives. But unless it also includes some restrictions on the ability of insurance plans to cover abortions, Bart Stupak will kill it. And that’s the pro-life position! Perhaps most absurdly of all, my understanding is that this really is the official Catholic Church position on issues of life and death. Taking political action to save the lives of children and adults is morally praiseworthy, but the obligation to take political action aimed at securing legal restrictions on abortions is paramount and actually overrides obligations to aid the poor and the sick.
That said, the other theory being mooted here is even more ridiculous. Stupak is taking up a position on legislation that will impact the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans because he’s bitter at the fact that most of his colleagues don’t agree with his idiosyncratic political positions? Post members of congress don’t agree with my political positions either! Get over it.