Friday, March 19, 2010

God Bless Bart Stupak

The more I've been following this health care debate, the more I've gotten confused, discouraged, and at times angry. Being invested in the pro-life issue, I was of course primarily concerned with abortion funding. I've long known that Obama is 100% committed to the pro-abortion cause, so I knew right from the introduction of a health care reform bill that abortion funding would be something to watch.

I was encouraged back when Congressman Bart Stupak originally introduced his amendment to ban abortion funding in health care, and 64 Democrats joined with the Republicans to vote in favor of the amendment. If this passes, I thought, at least it'll be something I can live with (although some pro-lifers were concerned even by that amendment).

Then the Senate bill came out, and apparently it did not live up to the language of the Stupak amendment. Trying to figure out exactly what it does say, and trying to figure out what's really going on, has been a sobering experience.

Every pro-life e-mail list has been frantically telling its members to contact their representatives in Congress to try to get opposition to this bill until it's changed to exclude abortion funding. But the sad realization I've come to is that all this energy devoted to this one bill should have been channeled a long, long time ago.

Part of what made me realize this is the way some people have had the gall to argue that we shouldn't oppose this bill now, because the government already funds abortions, anyway. I guess trying to do something about it now is considered infringing on women's personal liberties. Never mind my personal liberty in keeping my money from supporting abortion.

The more I've learned, the more I've come to realize just how much abortion is ingrained in our culture and in our economy. Decisions made by federal courts a long time ago have firmly established abortion is something politically unopposable, except in pitifully small ways. Honestly, if pro-lifers gain any victory on this health care bill, it too will be pitifully small.

This is why I simply can't vote for anyone who isn't pro-life. Although it seems rather futile in the short run, the fact is absolutely nothing of any long-term consequence can ever be done politically on this issue unless politicians have a price to pay for being pro-choice.

A big part of me would love to say I still respect pro-lifers who voted for Obama, based on many other important issues of conscience. But in many ways, I just can't. I have a really hard time respecting people who claim to believe abortion is wrong but won't do anything about it politically. The currency of politics is votes; give people your vote, and you give them incentive to stick to their current beliefs. Being pro-abortion is one of the worst beliefs I can think to endorse.

Change can only happen on this issue if people stick to their principles. Of course, it's true that many people will simply have to be convinced to change their minds. But much of the time, it's simply a matter of pro-lifers not having any backbone, being willing to sell out when the debate gets tough.

That's why Bart Stupak is just the man. This Democrat from Michigan has become the focal point for more political ire than I can imagine. But he isn't backing down.

Stupak is a long-time supporter of health care reform. In his own words, "I believe everyone should have healthcare. In all my correspondence — I’ve been saying for years — it’s a right, not a privilege."

But there's a price that Stupak isn't willing to pay: he isn't willing to see federal subsidies supporting abortion. And oh, the criticism he's taken from the Left; just Google his name and search for a few seconds.

For instance, Michael Moore has decided to chime in with a letter, brilliantly titled, "My Congressman, Bart Stupak, Has Neither a Uterus Nor a Brain." Besides Moore's characteristically inflated rhetoric and poor reasoning, the letter also contains unproven accusations against Stupak all for the sake of demonizing the guy, just because of his principled stance on this difficult issue.

Another article accuses Stupak of being willing to "kill the living to save the unborn." It also takes a stab at Stupak's conservative constituency:
Coming from a state that has been so touched by this recession, you'd think that voting against health care reform would be political suicide, but apparently, if Rep. Stupak is reading his constituents correctly, they are people who are willing for other people to die from lack of health care insurance, more than they are able to see beyond the perceived threat within their own "conspiracy theory" minds that health care reform is nothing more than a liberal, socialist plot to provide free, federally funded abortions. Next they'll be saying that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen and has no right to be president. Yeah right.
No one thinks any of this. But people bent on passing this health care bill without regard for its potential side effects will go to great lengths to make Stupak and his supporters out to be idiots.

And I just wonder, why? Why don't the Democrats just throw Stupak a bone, here? In the end, maybe it won't matter; maybe the Democrats will be able to ram it through without his support. But is it really so much to ask that federally subsidized health insurance plans don't cover abortions? I guess it is for most Democrats in Congress.

The Republicans we can count on to oppose anything that the Democrats try to pass in terms of health care reform. Part of that is a matter of principle, and part of it is just partisan politics; we all know that. What's amazing about Stupak is that he's withstanding enormous pressure from his own party, the party in power, to give in.

You just don't see that kind of courage every day. The news media and the bloggers can say whatever they want about his motives. But I say, God bless him. It's nice to see politics based on principle once in a while.

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