I’ve spent a while trying to figure out what it is Bart Stupak got in the course of his executive order “compromise” on abortion, and as best I can tell the answer is nothing. Or as Athenae < href=”http://www.first-draft.com/2010/03/bart-got-what-he-wanted.html”>puts it he got attention. I think what primarily happened is that with his bloc dissolving, Stupak cut a face-saving deal that mostly gave him an opportunity for “walking back from some of his past arguments”.
The problem with Stupack’s position in this has been that current law already reflects what he wants and the proposal he was objecting to also already reflects what he wants. If I wrote the laws, abortion would be treated like the bona fide medical procedure it is, and there’d be no reason that government-subsidized insurance plans couldn’t offer it. But I don’t write the laws, existing law reflects unjust discrimination against abortion services, and Obama’s proposals have always included a commitment to maintain the status quo. The political judgment that revisiting the Hyde Amendment in the middle of a giant fight about the overall structure of the insurance market was a bad idea strikes me as correct. But as a result of that, Stupak has been spending all this time huffing and puffing over basically nothing. In the end, Obama agreed to issue an executive order that basically amounts to pinky swearing that the Hyde rules are still in effect, but that’s always been his position. In exchange, Stupak agreed to acknowledge that the proposal actually does what everyone’s been saying it does, but he gets to walk away without admitting that he’s been wrong about this for a while now.