Will Pro-Life Democrats Kill Health Care Reform?

Now that we’re getting closer to a final health-care reform bill, it’s worth asking if pro-life Democrats will carry out their monumentally irresponsible threat to bring down reform if abortion funding is included in the package.

My guess is not. The obvious reason is that reform is tremendously popular, and any Democrat who stands in its way risks his or her job. I don’t believe that voters will reward ideology on this score, and I do believe the Representatives are smart enough to understand that. Less obvious, the House leadership will whip the bill mercilessly. The pressure to pass it will be enormous, and you’d better believe Nancy Pelosi will remember betrayals on an issue that could make or break her legacy, not to mention a sustainable Democratic majority for the next generation.

Beyond that, there’s the question of whether anti-abortion Dems can actually carry out their threat. Their ringleader Bart Stupak says he has “about” 40 votes, which would be enough to jam things up. But of course about 40 is not the same as 40 in actuality, and you’ll notice that Stupak isn’t naming names. Stupak is playing a weak hand, and he knows it:

We will try to—we, there’s about 40 likeminded Democrats like myself—we’ll try to take down the rule. If all 40 of us vote in a bloc against the rule—because we think the Republicans will join us—we can defeat the rule.

Stupak and his gang could surprise us, but my hunch is that they won’t hold, and the reform package will pass with abortion coverage over their objections.

That’s probably the point of this exercise anyway: to provide some cover for conservative Dems who were going to vote against reform anyway, and allow them to run against the party and its baby-killing ways. That might keep them in Rahm Emanuel’s good graces, but it’s unlikely to put them on the right side of history, and hopefully, it’s a ploy that will meet with less and less success every time it’s used.

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