Stupak’s ‘Health Care Hell’
In which Congressman Bart Stupak briefly tells the story of “the most grueling period in my nearly twenty years on the hill.” That may sound hyperbolic. It’s not. Read the whole thing. He has body guards. His wife unplugs the phone because drunks harass the family at all hours and from all states (note to self: prolife not the same as prosleep). He’s still getting death threats.
And why? Because he compromised. On Sunday, March 21, the day of the reconciliation vote, Stupak and his coalition of prolifers gathered to work out the language of the executive order President Obama promised them. The clock was ticking. They phoned the USCCB for some last-minute guidance.
No, no, no, no, they said. We need statutory law. But an executive order can have the full force of law, I said. Lincoln used one to free the slaves. George W. Bush used one to block stem-cell research using human embryos. And President Obama assures me that this is “ironclad.” Besides, I said, it’s time to negotiate or lose our chance to shape the bill. Help me with it? No, they said. Won’t you at least look at it? No.
That call changed my relationship with the pro-life movement. In the 18 years I’ve been in Congress, pro-life Democrats like me have delivered, working out compromises that protect human life. Now we had the most important piece of legislation for our movement yet—with pregnancy prevention, prenatal and postnatal care, and care for kids—and we couldn’t get support.
Presumably he means that Richard Doerflinger, or someone in the USCCB’s prolife office, wouldn’t even look at the proposed language of the executive order–language that was being drafted by Bart Stupak and his prolife allies, the very people Doerflinger and the bishops who repeated his arguments had thrown their weight behind until it became clear that the House bill wasn’t going to make it into law without revisions. (Although I’m still not sure how many of them grasped that political reality.) And they wouldn’t even look at it? Astonishing.
It isn’t hard to read between these lines:
Ultimately, what stings the most isn’t the hatred…. It’s that people tried to use abortion as a tool to stop health-care reform, even after protections were added. That realization has stayed with me in the weeks since…. My decision not to seek reelection isn’t about anything other than it being time to do something else with my life. The truth is that I’ve been thinking of a career change for more than six years. I was glad that I stayed to fight the bull. Now I’m glad the fight is over.