Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak Report

Goodbye to another unprincipled Democrat.” April 9, 2010. Retrieved April 10, 2010 from

Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak recently announced that he will not run for re-election. Stupak became an instrumental figure during the recent health care reform bill, and his eventual approval of the bill helped solidify the legislation. Representative Stupak was one of just a few Democrats who initially opposed Obama’s health care reform out of fear that the bill would lead to federally-funded abortions. Stupak eventually came to support the health care bill, just days before he announced his retirement.

In a scathing editorial, the Washington Times accuses Rep. Stupak of being a dishonest and “opportunistic politician.” If Stupak was so “opportunistic,” then he would probably not be retiring from Congress. An opportunistic politician is one who uses political maneuvers for personal gain. Stupak is apparently easing his way out of, not into Washington.

Stupak arguably agreed to support the health care reform bill under pressure from his party. On this point the Washington Times is correct. However, doing so did not mean that the Michigan congressman sacrificed his core ideals. Stupak was concerned that the health care reform bill would allow taxpayer dollars to fund abortions directly, a fear that President Obama and other Democrats proved was not the case. According to a CBS summary of the health care reform bill, “No health care plan would be required to offer abortion coverage.” States can also “pass legislation choosing to opt out of offering abortion coverage through the exchange,” (CBS).

Moreover, the bill effectively separates public and private health care funds. The segregation of public and private funds appeases rabid anti-abortion activists by disallowing any direct public money to go towards abortions. Unfortunately, the segregation of private from public funds also complicates the payment process for those who might need an abortion.

The Washington Times seems to have forgotten or seems to be ignoring the efficacy of Roe v. Wade. Abortions are legal in the United States, and the procedure is one that saves many women from being conscripted into premature parenthood. In extreme cases such as rape or incest, abortions should absolutely be funded as a human rights concern. Even the Hyde Amendment, which the Washington Post mentions in the editorial, allows for federal funding of abortions in tragic cases such as rape.

The abortion ethic debate aside, the Washington Times misses the mark on several issues. For one, Rep. Stupak did the right thing by signing the health care reform bill because to stall the entire plan based on a spurious abortion-related claim would have been a grave mistake. The United States needed health care reform badly. Millions of Americans were — and still are — without coverage. Fixating on abortion would have been like throwing a baby out with the bath water.

Second, the health care reform bill clearly allows for state insurers as well as private insurance companies to opt out of abortion coverage. Moreover, the essence of the health care reform bill is allowing all Americans to receive the coverage of their choice. That means that any person opposed to abortions can choose a health care plan that suits their needs. Stupak did not, as the editorial team suggests, vote for government-funded abortion. Stupak did vote for health care reform.

Another reason why the Washington Times editorial misses the mark is by slandering Stupak. There is simply no need to interject a personal attack into what is mainly a political issue. Instead, the editors of the Washington Times should use logic and not character assault to prove its case. Yes, Stupak’s opinions were in “constant flux,” as the Washington Times points out. This only proves that Stupak remained true to his ideals even though his opinions were contrary to those held by most other Democrats. Stupak tried to find ways of passing health care without sacrificing his anti-abortion political stance. In the end, he did so. The Washington Post accuses Stupak of selling out his conscience “and the unborn.” Actually, the Washington Post should not presume to know either the essence of Stupak’s conscience or the “unborn.”

The Washington Times then ironically offers Stupak too much credit even while slandering him. The editorial states, “he singlehandedly pushed Obamacare over the top for passage.” This is incorrect. The Democratic Party joined forces in the interests of the common good. The Washington Post quotes Stupak as stating, “the bill would have passed anyway” without his support. Most Democrats had already made their decision to support health care and might not have needed Stupak’s support anyway. If Stupak truly did not feel that the bill was the right measure for America, he would have voted “nay,” as the editorial suggests. Stupak voted yes to healthcare reform because he viewed the bill as the best chance to remedy some of the social problems that plague the country. Stupak was doing his duty as a public servant, and in his retirement from politics should be commended for his courage.

Works Cited

CBS. “Health Care Reform Bill Summary: A Look at What’s in the Bill.” April 2010. Retrieved April 11, 2010 from

Washington Times editorial: ” Goodbye to another unprincipled Democrat.” April 9, 2010. Retrieved April 10, 2010 from

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