WSJ's William McGurn expresses the frustation.
Bart Stupak and Democrats for Life have inflicted great damage on the pro-life movement. They handed us a failure when we were on the verge of victory. Many of us thought that cooperation to protect the unborn was so foundational that it transcended the usual party politics.
We thought we could count on our pro-life brethren to do the right thing when it came to the unborn regardless of party affiliation. Bart Stupak and other avowedly pro-life Democrats like Indiana's Joe Donnelly, Brad Ellsworth, Baron Hill, Ohio's Marcy Kaptur and Pennsylvania's Chris Carney have just made believing that virtually impossible. What they have done is demonstrate that our common humanity from conception to natural death is secondary to other interests. Remember that they voted for this health care bill over the objections of every experienced pro-life organization, over the objections of the USCCB, and in spite of the admittedly, complex problems, economic and administrative, associated with this health care bill. The reasons to stand in solidarity with the unborn were firm. The reasons to vote for the health care bill relied on a list of assumptions that nobody who voted for the bill could guarantee.
This leaves Republicans with a claim to a monopoly on the pro-life vote. History shows this is bad politics for any social movement that wants lasting political change. Nevertheless, any prospective candidate who thinks that abortion is a foundational issue is bound to think that Stupak and company have given him a good reason to dismiss the Democrats.
For those of us who do think that abortion is foundational to our understanding of what it means to be human, the question remains: Can the unborn be protected without support from both sides of the aisle? Would the partial birth abortion ban have passed without bi-partisan support? Or the Born Alive Infant Protection Act? In state legislatures can regulation of abortion be carried out by one party? This is why all the talk about pro-life democrats as insincere, hypocritical, moral pariahs is understandable but ultimately unhelpful.
What is helpful? This is a question for a "Direct to my Desk" segment.
McGurn puts it well: "In signing on to this sham order, the Stupak people signed their death warrant as a force within their party. In an America where a majority now describe themselves as pro-life, they have put legislative accommodations on abortion further out of reach. At least in the near future, they have ensured the Democrats will become even more uniformly pro-choice, and our national debate more polarized.
And that's a tragedy for our politics as well as for our principles."