[Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.)] is enduring more hatred than perhaps any other member of Congress, much of it from fellow Democrats. His name has become a slogan: “Stop Stupak!”
-- From "Abortion Foe Defies Party on Health Care Bill" by Jodi Kantor, New York Times 1/7/10
With final negotiations on a health care overhaul beginning this week, complaints about “the evil Stupak amendment” . . . are likely to grow even louder.
Mr. Stupak insists that the final bill include his terms, which he says merely reflect current law. If he prevails, he will have won an audacious, counterintuitive victory, forcing a Democratic-controlled Congress to pass a measure that will be hailed as an anti-abortion triumph. If party members do not accept his terms — and many vow they will not — Mr. Stupak is prepared to block passage of the health care overhaul.
“It’s not the end of the world if it goes down,” he said over dinner. He did not sound downbeat about the prospect of being blamed for blocking the long-sought goal of President Obama and a chain of presidents and legislators before him. “Then you get the message,” he continued. “Fix the abortion language and bring the bill back.”
Mr. Stupak says his stand is a straightforward matter of Roman Catholic faith, but it also seems like the result of a long, slow burn. As dinner progressed, the congressman described years of feeling ignored, slighted or marginalized by his party for his anti-abortion views.
When Republicans ruled Washington, his fellow Democrats had to listen to anti-abortion views, he said. But with Democratic victories, abortion rights supporters felt their time had come.
“You’re never getting a right-to-life amendment,” Mr. Stupak said Representative Louise M. Slaughter, Democrat of New York and chairwoman of the Rules Committee, told him during health care negotiations. “We have pro-choice Democrats in the White House. We have majorities in the House and Senate. You’re done.”
He is trying to pass the health care overhaul, he insists, not sabotage it, and predicts that the legislation will ultimately collapse for reasons apart from abortion. But he will be blamed anyway, he is sure.
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