The Real Goal of Pro-Life Movement Support for Scott Brown: Kill Health Care Reform

As the recriminations fly among Democrats this morning over who is responsible for their loss of the Massachusetts Senate seat the late Ted Kennedy held for more than 40 years, the conservative movement is rejoicing over what it is characterizing as a “new” American revolution — a new tea party, if you will — emerging out of Massachusetts.

The geography is rife with symbolism: the first shots of the 2010 revolution fired in the heart of blue America, potentially killing Kennedy’s life work and setting the stage for a Republican resurgence in New England, of all places. But what pro-life activists aren’t saying right now — but which is evident to anyone who understands how they operate — is that Scott Brown is their tool for killing health care reform. He’s hardly their new star.

Brown got a couple of endorsements from anti-abortion groups, but the big guns stayed on the sidelines. That’s because even though Brown opposes health care reform (and opposes abortion funding in health care reform), he supports Roe v. Wade. From his campaign web site:


While this decision should ultimately be made by the woman in consultation with her doctor, I believe we need to reduce the number of abortions in America. I believe government has the responsibility to regulate in this area and I support parental consent and notification requirements and I oppose partial birth abortion. I also believe there are people of good will on both sides of the issue and we ought to work together to support and promote adoption as an alternative to abortion.

Apart from the parental notification requirements, Brown sounds a lot like Obama (at least the iteration of his position toward the end of the 2008 campaign and into his administration). But for a Republican, that “people of good will on both sides of the issue” talk is hardly going to make the pro-life movement swoon. Yet Brown’s campaign pledge to vote against abortion funding in health care reform (and, of course, his opposition to reform generally) led the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony list to proclaim this morning that his victory was a “WIN for women.” Not because he meets the organization’s stringent anti-abortion requirements for its full support (think Sarah Palin) but because he serves the movement’s goal in the short term: kill health care reform, and if they can’t kill it, at least eliminate abortion coverage.

Under other circumstances, it’s hard to imagine how a Roe-supporting, Cosmo-posing hottie could become a hero of the religious right and the standard-bearer of a new conservative ascendancy.

As the Democrats scramble to figure out whether to send the Senate health care bill to the House to avoid another vote in the Senate with Brown seated, the American Center for Law and Justice is gearing up for a legal battle:

The people of Massachusetts have spoken and Sen. Brown must be seated without delay in the Senate.  Any attempt to shut out Sen. Brown from the legislative process including preventing him from casting a vote on health care reform circumvents this election and clearly denies the will of the people of Massachusetts. . . . Elections have consequences and the Democrats must understand that the consequences of a Sen. Brown victory mean it’s time to put a stop to the flawed government-run, pro-abortion health care program that’s been on a fast-track.

For a movement with pretensions to ideological purity, the religious right’s support for Brown is calculated for the short term: hijack health care reform and push the narrative that the country is moving to the right. But something tells me if he’s ever invited to address the Values Voters Summit, Brown would be received a bit like Rudy Giuliani was in 2007. He’d be given a polite reception, but he’s not going anywhere.

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