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Pro-life Rep. Tom Perriello backs Senate bill's abortion safeguards

Perriello, a social justice, pro-life Democrat, made headlines in fall 2008 when he won a Virginia seat dominated by Republicans. He is extremely vulnerable for this fall (think of him as the Democratic version of Louisiana's GOP freshman, Anh "Joseph" Cao) but today indicated he might support the Senate bill. Most important, he said the Senate's abortion funding provisions were as solid as those in the House bill, which he had previously backed.My take at PoliticsDaily is here. Below are key grafs from his statement:

"As health care experts and pro-life leaders agree, the abortion language in the Senate bill upholds the Hyde Amendment standard. The Senate health care bill prevents federal taxpayer dollars from funding abortions, as the Catholic Hospital Association and legal experts have recently stated and as my own research has confirmed.""Furthermore, several key yet unadvertised provisions of the bill are likely to reduce the number of abortions in this country in ways that move beyond politics toward a real impact on the culture of life in our country, such as those that provide $250 million for programs to support vulnerable pregnant women and increase the adoption tax credit, also making it refundable, so that lower income families can access it fully...""..."I have plenty of serious problems with the Senate bill and, until I see the final language, I cannot take a position on final passage. But the existing language on abortion in the current Senate bill meets the pledge I made to ensure no federal funding for abortion in this health care bill."

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Does anyone know if Perriello is considered part of the Stupak 12 (or 10 or whatever it actually is)?

One outcome of this scenario is that Sr. Keehan's pro-life credentials probably are now permanently compromised in the eyes of pro-life advocates. That her article provided political cover for Perriello (whose pro-life credentials were suspect anyway) seals the deal, if any further sealing were needed.I'm not saying it's fair, but that's my prediction of how this will fall out.

Jim, I'm not sure pro-lifers (as such) in the lobbying sector were ever very taken with Sr. Carol. That underscores another reality, that many pro-lifers are also political conservatives who oppose health care reform on other grounds, and their attitudes on stance on abortion can mix with their stance on Obama's agenda -- much as liberal-minded pro-lifers can do.

"That underscores another reality, that many pro-lifers are also political conservatives who oppose health care reform on other grounds, and their attitudes on stance on abortion can mix with their stance on Obamas agenda much as liberal-minded pro-lifers can do."That cloud of distrust hovers over all these discussions, doesn't it? - everything is taken with a grain of salt, every pronouncement sifted for ulterior partisan motive. Is it possible, at least for us on dotcom, to talk about this topic without that cloud? I'm finding it difficult! But I'm determined to keep trying. :-)

David ==A couple of your posts in the last couple of days have shown clearly that accuracy and, therefore, justice - require that we distinguish conservative pro-lifers and liberal pro-lifers. Not to manifest the distinction allows the conservative ones to put themselves forward as *the* Catholic defenders of unborn persons. They are NOT the only pro-life Catholics no matter how sincerely some of them think they are. Thanks for helping to make this clear. The general public especially needs to know it, including some of the bishops..

Jim: How were Perriello's "prolife credentials" suspect?And Dale Kildee (D-Michigan), one of the "Stupak 12," has come around to the idea that the restrictions in the Senate bill will keep federal dollars from funding abortions:

For those who know me, I have always respected and cherished the sanctity of human life. I spent six years studying to be a priest and was willing to devote my life to God. I came to Congress two years after the Hyde amendment became law, Mr. Kildee said in a statement. And I have spent the last 34 years casting votes to protect the lives of the unborn. I have stood up to many in my party to defend the right to life and have made no apologies for doing so. I now find myself disagreeing with some of the people and groups I have spent a lifetime working with. I have listened carefully to both sides, sought counsel from my priest, advice from family, friends and constituents, and I have read the Senate abortion language more than a dozen times.He added, I am convinced that the Senate language maintains the Hyde amendment, which states that no federal money can be used for abortion.

http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/17/stupak-ally-in-house-a...

Ann, thanks, I struggle to do that because obviously the standard for being pro-life is not opposing the health care bill or agreeing with the bishops or all sorts of things. What that label means is so controverted that I like Perriello's effort to avoid any such labels. They have been hijacked by all sides. Jim, I'd echo Grant re Perriello. Were you just saying anti-abortion lobbies saw him as suspect or you do?As far as distrust, as long as it is not reflexive it is not necessarily destructive. Trust but verify, as the old man said. And I think reason can be used to determine the best course. One must also realize that for the party in opposition, and arguably for a party like Republicans who tend to do better in opposition than in governing, casting a cloud of suspicion over everything and everyone's motives is itself their best political tactic. Make everyone think government doesn't work and nothing will get done. And voila, prophecy comes true! It is basic, brilliant, and not much else.

"Jim, Id echo Grant re Perriello. Were you just saying anti-abortion lobbies saw him as suspect or you do?"The former. I know very little about him. Google "Perriello abortion" for ample evidence that pro-life advocates don't trust him.

"Trust but verify, as the old man said. "Or, as a friend of mine says, "Love your neighbor but lock your doors"

"Dale Kildee (D-Michigan), one of the Stupak 12, has come around to the idea that the restrictions in the Senate bill will keep federal dollars from funding abortions"And Oberstar agrees:http://www.rollcall.com/news/44294-1.html

Btw, Perriello's NRLC pro-life vote score is 25%. Kildee's is 50%Oberstar's is 50%By way of comparison, Stupak's is also 50%. If I counted correctly, there are 15 Democrats in the House with a rating of 100%. There are many Republicans at 100%.

And now Kucinich has switched to a "yes," which means....well, who the hell knows with Dennis Kucinich?BTW, for all you political junkies, or those of us who just like pretty things to keep our attention focused, the NYT has a cool "whip" graphic tracking who's where and why:http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/03/16/us/politics/20100316-healt...

Jim: I'm afraid citing NRLC's ratings of legislators doesn't answer my question. What has Perriello done that has caused you to label his prolife credentials "suspect"? Do you know or are you just spiffballing here?

"One outcome of this scenario is that Sr. Keehans pro-life credentials probably are now permanently compromised in the eyes of pro-life advocates."Jim --I"m a pro-life advocate and her credentials have been enhanced by her decision, as, I'm sure, they have been with many other liberal pro-lifers.

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David Gibson is a national reporter for Religion News Service and author of The Coming Catholic Church (HarperOne) and The Rule of Benedict (HarperOne). He blogs at dotCommonweal.