By Kathleen Gilbert
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 7, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Pro-life leaders Saturday afternoon are hailing the House's decision to allow a voting opportunity on pro-life, Hyde-amendment language in the health bill as a major victory. However, with some sources suggesting that Democrat leadership is banking on later squeezing the pro-life amendment out of the bill in committee, some leaders are warning that the bill - with a whole bundle of dangers besides the federal abortion funding - is still too much of a threat.
The New York Times reported this morning that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decided to allow a vote on the amendment with the hopes that her pro-abortion colleagues would be assuaged by the possibility of "changes in the weeks ahead," particularly changes wrought when the Senate and House versions of the bill are reconciled. In the early hours of the morning Saturday, the speaker unexpectedly gave permission for the full House to vote on Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak's amendment banning federal funding of abortion in the health bill.
Accordingly, pro-abortion Democrats are fuming about the likely-successful pro-life vote, but will temporarily acquiesce in order to move the massive bill ahead.
"There's no way at the end of the day we're going to support these kinds of further restrictions on abortion," Representative Jan Schakowsky, Democrat of Illinois, said Saturday morning on C-Span. "We're going to strategize further about how we're going to respond to this amendment. Get as many votes as we can against it. But at the end of the day we want to move the process along."
Even apart from the abortion battle, the bill appeared to be heading into trouble Saturday evening.
The Hill reported Saturday afternoon that at least ten Democrats who had been "teetering on the fence" over the health care bill have come out publicly against it: Reps. Eric Massa (N.Y.), Frank Kratovil (Md.), Jim Matheson (Utah), Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (S.D.), Larry Kissell (N.C.), Bobby Bright (Ala.), Suzanne Kosmas (Fla.), Walt Minnick (Idaho), Harry Teague (N.M.), and Mike McMahon (N.Y.). It is unclear what issue decided the turnaround.
The liberal website Daily Kos urged readers to contact other Democrats still undecided on the bill: Reps. Michael Arcuri (N.Y.), Brian Baird (Wash.), Melissa Bean (Ill.), F. Allen Boyd (Fla.), Chris Carney (Pa.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Marcy Kaptor (Ohio), Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), Scott Murphy, and Glenn Nye (Va.).
Tom McClusky of the Family Research Council told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) Saturday afternoon that, even if all goes as planned and the critical Stupak amendment is voted into the bill, "the battle is definitely not over."
"It's certainly not the end, it's far from that," said McClusky.
"I think the fact that Nancy Pelosi is allowing the vote after, for weeks, having her lieutenants try to squelch the bill, I think makes it pretty clear that the Democrats are scrambling for votes on the overall bill," he added.
McClusky pointed out that "there are still problems within the bill, and problems for pro-lifers," including a loophole to promote euthanasia through taxpayer-funded end-of-life provisions, and the health care rationing McClusky said was "inevitable" with the bill's expansion of the government's health care role.
(Click here for more information from NRLC re: contacting elected representatives.)