Democrats Ought to Thank Stupak

Congressman brings the party in line with the public on abortion
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 11, 2009 1:40 PM CST
In this 2008 file photo, Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill.

(Newser) – Liberal Democrats are angry at Bart Stupak for forcing an amendment restricting abortion into the House’s health care bill. But one day, they may view the unassuming congressman as a savior of health care reform. Polls show the American public is evenly split on abortion, and most don’t want government health care to pay for it. Stupak’s amendment not only brings a “note of reality into the Democratic echo chamber”—it divides conservative opponents of health care reform, writes David Gibson.

With a Stupak-esque amendment present in the Senate bill, those who oppose reform because of abortion are neutralized or, “as in the case of the Catholic bishops—brought on board as allies,” writes Gibson at Politics Daily. Democratic leaders widened their congressional majorities in recent years by courting more conservative candidates. If they allow liberal activists to scuttle health care reform over abortion, or ignore the Bart Stupaks among them, those candidates will lose the ability to be competitive, costing the Dems both a shot at health care and control of Congress.