dotCommonweal

A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors

.

How about we shoot ourselves in the other foot?

This from Politico: "Anti-abortion groups are poised to launch a multimillion-dollar offensive against a collection of former allies House Democrats who also oppose abortion in an effort to discredit their credibility with anti-abortion voters and oust them from office.Four separate campaigns are in the works, aimed at anti-abortion House Democrats who voted for the health care bill and designed around the notion that those Democrats signed on to legislation that lacked restrictions ensuring that federal funds would not be spent to provide coverage for abortions.Some of the targeted members largely, though not exclusively, vulnerable and junior Democrats voted for the bill after Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) cut a deal with the White House that President Barack Obama would sign an executive order ensuring that the bill would not provide such funding. Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0410/36173.html#ixzz0lqKZMcNrActually if you add up the amounts mentioned in the story multi-million dollars seems a stretch. Now that the Democrats have gotten the news that they have pro-life politicians in their midst and pro-life voters, it would be nice if the DNC and the rest of us came to the rescue of some of these folks. My particular favorite, not mentioned in the story, is Tom Perriello (VA-5th District)

About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.

30 comments
Close

30 comments

Commenting Guidelines

  • All

It seems to me that it makes a tremendous difference whether Pelosi had the votes to pass the bill without Stupak and the others (which is what Stupak claims) or Stupak "caved." I believe Stupak, but the pro-lifers seem to entirely ignore the issue of what actually happened. The only explanation, it seems to me, is that this is about partisan politics and not about advancing the pro-life cause.

This seems a very odd strategy for the pro-life movement to pursue. I agree with D. Nickol that this would open them up to criticism that they are not genuinely about life issues but instead are pursuing a partisan political agenda. But I'm missing the upside of the strategy; why exactly would they pursue it? It's never a good idea to splinter your base.

This would not be a situation of splintering the base if they thought that they could get a more "reliable" person elected for a variety of "pro-life" issues. An anti-abortion Democrat may be perceived as someone who could not be counted on for strong abortion restriction legislation, or on legislation related to issues like contraception, conscience, ....and, and (I'm trying to think of another con-); well, you get my point.Of course, if this effort is at all successful, it will likely make it even harder to be an anti-abortion Democrat in the future.

related to issues like contraception, conscience, .and, and (Im trying to think of another con-); Condoleezza Rice?

It's about time that legitimate pro-lifers create a litmus test for the use of the term.Being anti-abortion is a FAR CRY from being pro-life. And waving rosary beads at protests doesn't make it any more legitimate.

According to the very reliable Kurt over on Vox Nova, there was a Democrat interested in running for the Massachusetts Senate seat now occupied by Scott Brown, and he gave up when Massachusetts for Life (MFL) made it clear they were not interested in backing him. Instead, MFL strongly supported Brown, who is of course pro-choice, because they wanted to defeat the health-care-reform bill.

I'll eat my hat if the Republicans aren't supplying most of the money for this campaign to defeat those Democrats.I've long thought that the three most destructive aspects of our political system are gerrymandering, the corporations-are-persons law and the fact that anyone and any organization can contribute money to any candidate in any state. So long as "foreign" money is allowed in a state, the clout of individual voters in that state is diluted. It ought to be illegal to contribute across state lines. I don't know how that could be enforced, but without such a law the rich rule this country. We have an oligarchy, folks, not a real democracy.

It's amazing that pro-lifer/partisans can back life flip floppers like Reagan, BushI, Romney, [and if you believe McCain in his heart is really pro-life I have a GG bridge for sale.] yet they target real pro-life Dems.. you can fool a lot of people all the time.

Thank God we have some genuine right to life posters here ,e.g. Bill Colier.Often it sems that many comingle religion and pro GOP politics too closely.Ther e is no doubt that they weaken the Gospel message of life for the sake of their own ideology, bu tcannot be forthcoming about it.

The only way to prohibit the use of federal funds for abortions would have been to prohibit any Government-sponsored insurance plan from providing elective abortion coverage. The purpose of the Government sponsored Health Care Plan was to "cut costs" so that Health Care would become affordable. By including elective abortion in this Government sponsored insurance plan, through the use of Government funding, insurance plans now exist that will cut the costs of elective abortion, making elective abortion more affordable.The fact is, elective abortion is not Health Care. We all know one can not be preserving Human Life while destroying Human Life, simultaneously.

Nancy Danielson: Off-topic as usual; and wrong to boot.

I hope some investigative reporter outlines where the money for al this is coming from.

That being said, this certainly doesn't help the Pro-Life position:http://spectator.org/blog/2010/03/27/fr-hesburgh-and-joe-donnellysIn the spirit of full disclosure, I know Joe Donnelly to be a Good and decent Person, who would be the type of Person I would vote for to be President some day. I know Father Hesburgh has contributed much that is Good for the Church. Here is where they are mistaken.From The Beginning, The Truth of Love is The Truth for all Human Individuals, not just Catholics.From From the Beginning, God created every Human Individual equal, not just Catholics. From the beginning of the creation of this Health Care Plan, it was always possible to preserve the Life of every Human individual, including those Human Individuals residing within their Mother's Womb.

Nancy; there was no public option [government sponsored health plan] ;it was in all the newspapers!

This is to be expected; one of the problems that we have acquired in modern times is the inability to understand practical reason and how it leads to a plurality of possible positions based upon the same principle. Today, people think that the principle and the practical application are the same thing. In my mind, I think modern day "apologetics" (not all apologists, and not classical apologetics) is in part to blame. This kind of apologetics suggests a simple, unified vision of truth, and it is often practiced by former Protestants turned Catholic who have not yet grasped the diversity in unity of Catholicism. Other Protestants and poorly catechized Catholics turn to them, and end up seeing truth is a simple, unpluralistic proposition which we can affirm or not affirm. With this mental disposition, they turn towards politics, and unite things which should not be united as a means to create a "pro-life" position which does not allow for different practical applications of the Gospel of Life.

"Nancy; there was no public option [government sponsored health plan] ;it was in all the newspapers!"Not completely true. It was also in the fundraising materials sent out by the GOP. Think FOCA 2, in the spirit of Hollywood sequels.

True, there is no public option as in,[government runned health plan] but while our Government will not be assuming full responsibility for running Health Care, they, obviously, will be providing funds for various provisions in this Health Care Bill, such as the Community Centers and the Health Exchanges. I should have clarified, from the beginning, the definition I was using for the word sponsored. I meant sponsored,[financing a project] NOT sponsored[assuming responsibility].

I also think this is not a bright move by these particular pro-life organizations. But regarding motives: you don't need to be a conspiracy buff. The fact is, despite the apparent consensus on dotCom, the healthcare reform bill is widely perceived by pro-life activists as a pro-life setback. So from their point of view, it makes sense that they should work to punish those who enabled it.Ann, can you describe your hat? :-)

Nobody wants to talk about the shameful record of the NRLC on abortion and healthcare. So eager was it to bed Republicans that it signed off on the weakest pro-life protections ever when it came to funding the Medicare Advantage program (a program that sends federal subsidies to private insurance companies to provide health insurance under the Medicare program). The protections that none of this money would be used to fund abortion? None whatsoever. To this day, Medicare Advantage offers "elective abortion" while receiving taxpayer money (for sure, the demographics of Medicare is such that abortion is not really an issue, but we must remember that a sizeable chunk of Medicares goes to people on disability). I keep brining up this example to show that the National Right to Life Commitee is partisan, hypocritical, and bankrupt. The biggest mistake the bishops made during the healthcare debate was listening to these people.

I don't recall who said this:We as communities should be willing to offer such generous ransoms to pregnant unwed mothers, that only the hard hearted of them would refuse.So why are anti-abortionists willing to spend so much money defaming instead of ministering to those women between a rock and a hard place?Some pro-life groups do minister to women who are often both pregnant and battered. All of us Catholics are called to help these ministries in every way, including our "stored up labor" (money). These have the credibility to be named pro-life activists - who love and dialog with those politicians who voted for health care for everyone.

I live in the Diocese of Lansing (Mich.), and as a member of a parish in the diocese, Raber gets Faith Magazine, a publication I enjoy loathing on many levels, from the amount of money I expect it costs (high-gloss, heavy weight paper, four color on every page) to shallow-to-the-point-of-inanity of the writing.However, the thing is wildly popular, and it's a big opinion maker, so I followed with interest the coverage about the health care bill, which seemed to be fairly even-handed. The link to the Web site coverage is somewhat different from the print piece. If anything including the statistics on Michigan's uninsured, which continues to rise, seems to urge more action.My beef with the print piece is that it claims that the claim that the bill would increase the number of abortions, a claim I don't think has been adequately substantiated, and which strikes me as a swipe (intentional or not) at Stupak.The online story is here http://www.faithmag.com/faithmag/column2.asp?ArticleID=1125In this same issue Bishop Boyea wrote a column about the leadership role of the bishops with specific reference to the CHA. Bolded in the online version of the piece is this:"Whoever is not with the bishop is not in the Church. You must understand that it is to no avail that people may beguile themselves with the illusion that whilst they are not at peace with the bishops of God, they may still worm their way in and surreptitiously hold communion with certain people. (Unity of the Church 66:8:3)"

Jim P. --I wouldn't doubt that the radical pro=lifers would seek to defeat certain Democrats. They've been irrational before. My point concerned where the apparently mammoth amount of money is coming from. The most likely source is the group with mammoth amounts of money -- corporate Republicans who want the extra Republican votes so they can scuttle Obama's financial reform plans.

"The only explanation, it seems to me, is that this is about partisan politics and not about advancing the pro-life cause."That would not explain why Pro-Lifers have had nothing but lauds for Mr. Dan Lipinski, a Pro-Life Representative from Illinois's 3rd District. What confuses me about Pro-Life support for Rep. Lipinski in light of your statement is that the Representative is a member of the Democratic Party.

Jean, that is an incredible statement: Whoever is not with the bishop is not in the Church. You must understand that it is to no avail that people may beguile themselves with the illusion that whilst they are not at peace with the bishops of God, they may still worm their way in and surreptitiously hold communion with certain people. (Unity of the Church 66:8:3)The rhetoric alone! And what of the theology? "Worm their way"? "Certain people"? "the bishops of God"? Who be they? I feel I am in a Flash Gordon movie with the Clay People trying to speak?

Jean: suggest to whoever around you takes this seriously but does not like your local bishop that they can instead adopt the bishop of Metuchen as their leader in the church hierarchy. http://www.diometuchen.org/

OMG, Margaret, the Clay People! I loved Queen Azura who was in cahoots with Ming the Merciless! My brother and I used to watch this as teenagers on one of the sci fi late shows and laugh our heads off.Do you know where that quote is from ("The Unity of the Church"?). It's not (though 895-6 from the CCC give a more tempered outline of the bishop's authority). I do think the passage is interesting in that it first refers to "the bishop" (singular) and then to ("the bishops") collectively.In my view, that's the trouble with the quote. It has always been my understanding that where you disagree with the bishops (all of 'em), you better rethink your position. However, where you disagree with the policies or conclusions of a single bishop with whom other bishops may differ, well, there's your gray area.And while I'm griping about Faith Mag under the leadership of our relatively new Bishop, here's the front page poll, which is about health care. Worded to ensure the answer the diocese wants to hear:The legislature has passed health care reform. What do you think of it? a) I am all in favor of it - it's about time.b) If it weren't for the potential issues with abortion funding, I would be in favor, but I can't support its current form. c) The government should stay out of health care - let's leave things the way they are. d) I don't know enough about it to have an opinion. Answer a) and you don't care about abortion. Answer c) and you're heartless. Answer d) and you're a moron. Hence ...

The statement of Jean's bishop is one reason why I have a problem with the idea of collective penance discussed on another thread. On the one hand, our religious leaders (at least the most public ones), often act as if Catholics should accept without question everything the bishops say. Vote no to health care reform, challenge gay marriage, etc, etc. Folks who believe differently are often told they are bad "Catholics". On the other hand, these bishops, who seem to have no tolerance at all for dissent, expect us to do penance and share in the collective guilt for their actions? I don't understand how they can insist on total obedience on the one hand and expect us to share the guilt on the other.

Sorry to go off topic on the previous post.

Ooops, should be "It's not FROM THE CCC" (thinking about Queen Azura ...)

"I wouldnt doubt that the radical pro=lifers would seek to defeat certain Democrats. Theyve been irrational before. My point concerned where the apparently mammoth amount of money is coming from. The most likely source is the group with mammoth amounts of money corporate Republicans who want the extra Republican votes so they can scuttle Obamas financial reform plans."I dunno. "Radical" is in the eye of the beholder. There is nothing radical about being pro-life nor about seeking to defeat Democrats. Nor is there anything particularly irrational about seeking to defeat officeholders who do things you oppose. All of this happens all the time - it's all politics as usual. I wouldn't characterize these amounts of money as "mammoth". In today's political world, it's relatively peanuts. I'm familiar with one or two of these groups, and can attest that they do raise funds and engage in political activity apart from any bankrolling by the Republican Party. The rules for party spending confuse me, so I don't know if a party would be allowed to funnel money through a third party organization. I just think the simplest explanation is these groups raised funds and have decided to spend them in the pursuit of their self-interest.

Add new comment

You may login with your assigned e-mail address.
The password field is case sensitive.

Or log in with...

Add new comment