Former Rep. Bart Stupak’s Betrayal Still Resonates – Taxpayer Dollars are Funding Abortions

Former Congressman Bart Stupak from Michigan, a supposed pro-life Democrat, had the votes to stop Obamacare dead in its tracks back in 2010. He had a small but solid band of pro-life members of Congress that were willing to block Obamacare because it funded abortion with taxpayer dollars.

He had the votes. He had them.

For months, in an epic showing of unity, dozens of pro-life groups came together under the Stop the Abortion Mandate coalition to educate the American public that indeed, Obamacare funded abortion directly with taxpayer dollars. The campaign was working and poll after poll showed that Americans got the message and over 70 percent were adamantly against funding abortion with taxpayer dollars.

Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., takes part in a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, FILE)
Former Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich.(AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

The coalition supported both Republicans and Democrats who were fighting to stop Obamacare because it funded abortion. The coalition especially fought for those pro-life Democrats who were facing an uphill battle in their own party. Many on both sides of the aisle desperately wanted affordable health care for all Americans and rightly so. But they understood that this great goal couldn’t be met by sacrificing the weakest among us and having taxpayers foot the bill for it.

Taxpayer funded abortion in Obamacare was never considered to be a fatal flaw in the law until the last minute when Congressman Stupak and his band of followers refused to back down. As one of the leaders of the Stop the Abortion Mandate coalition, I was throwing all my support behind these members, as well many of the other pro-life groups.

But Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Cali.) and President Barack Obama needed those votes, and they were going to do whatever it took to make sure that they had them.

In late March 2010, we got word that something was going down on Capitol Hill and that Stupak was wavering. On Sunday afternoon, March 21, Congressman Stupak called a press conference and announced he and his fellow “pro-life” Democrats would be voting for Obamacare because President Obama said he would sign an executive order saying that no taxpayer dollars would fund abortion.

Anti-abortion demonstrators hold signs during a Priests for Life protest outside the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit Court as the Court hears the oral arguments in the "Priests for Life v. US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)" case in Washington, DC, on May 8, 2014. The case centers around the HHS mandate in the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, that religious organizations must cover contraceptions and abortion as part of their health insurance benefits, even if that goes against the organization's religious beliefs.    AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB
Anti-abortion demonstrators hold signs during a Priests for Life protest outside the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit Court as the Court hears the oral arguments in the “Priests for Life v. US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)” case in Washington, DC, on May 8, 2014. The case centers around the HHS mandate in the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, that religious organizations must cover contraceptions and abortion as part of their health insurance benefits, even if that goes against the organization’s religious beliefs. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB

I, along with my fellow pro-life leaders, was profoundly heartbroken. We all had worked tirelessly for months and supported Congressman Stupak to the very end. But in order to save favor with their party leaders and precious party campaign dollars, a band of self-proclaimed “pro-life” Democrats ripped down the last defense against taxpayer funded abortion.

Obamacare passed the House by a vote of 219-212. Because just a handful of people caved on the most prized value of the right to life, the destruction of not only the preborn but of the lives of millions of Americans have been uprooted due to the adverse effects of Obamacare. Way to go former Rep. Stupak.

On the House floor mere hours after the press conference, Congressman Stupak said “It is the Democrats who, through the president’s executive order, ensure that the sanctity of life is protected.”

That could not have been further from the truth.

To Stupak’s surprise perhaps, the non-partisan General Accounting Office announced this week that Obamacare funds abortion directly.

While pro-life groups and others knew this from the beginning, it is no less infuriating that Obamacare was so close to being stopped in its tracks if only a few people would have held their ground and not have been conned into believing an executive order that wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on.

Theresa Maska holds a sign supporting anti-abortion legislation outside the Texas Senate as they prepare to debate an abortion bill, Friday, July 12, 2013, in Austin, Texas. The bill would require doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, only allow abortions in surgical centers, dictate when abortion pills are taken and ban abortions after 20 weeks. Credit: AP
Credit: AP

Out of the handful of pro-life Democrats who voted for Obamacare that March, almost all of them lost their re-election in the fall of 2010 and Stupak, knowing his defeat was imminent, decided to leave office. One of the only pro-life Democrats of Stupak’s alliance to vote against Obamacare, Rep. Dan Lipinksi of Illinois, held onto his seat.

Americans do recognize courage when they see it.

While many Americans may disagree with the pro-life position, an overwhelming majority do agree that their dollars shouldn’t be used to pay for abortion. Congress needs to take this into consideration and once and for all make it illegal that any taxpayer dollars fund abortion.

No flimsy executive orders with promises of such action will suffice. Hopefully Congress has leaders with a backbone who will stand up and fight this battle.

Kristan Hawkins is president of Students for Life of America and can be reached at khawkins@studentsforlife.org.

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