WASHINGTON, DC, January 18, 2010 ( – A new interview of former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has cast into doubt the explanations of some pro-life Democrats for giving last-minute support to the abortion-expanding health care law last year.

Emanuel, now in the running for the next mayor of Chicago, was questioned by fellow candidate Carol Moseley Braun about his role heading up the effort to gather enough Democrat votes to squeeze the bill through a reluctant US House. The former Chief of Staff explained that passage revolved around breaking the resolve of 14 pro-life Democrats, led by Rep. Bart Stupak, who refused to support the bill unless the pro-life language known as the Stupak amendment was included.

“President Obama was determined to get his healthcare bill passed. There were 14 votes that were holding up, and my job as chief-of-staff was to help the president get – after a hundred years of waiting for comprehensive reform of healthcare – to help him get that legislation,” said Emanuel. “And it was hanging in balance by 14 votes.”

Emanuel said that he then came up with the Executive Order idea in order “to allow the Stupak Amendment not to exist by law but by executive order.”

He also pointed out that the compromise was so favorable to the abortion lobby that even Nancy Pelosi and other staunch pro-abortion female lawmakers supported the move.

While the pro-life bloc had at first asserted that the bill was too pro-abortion to merit support, the same lawmakers, as well as Democrats for Life of America (DFLA), justified the switch by claiming the Executive Order was adequate assurance that the status quo of federal abortion funding would be maintained.

For example, only days before the vote, Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-OH) refused to support the bill, telling the Cincinnati Enquirer he would “not bend on the principle of federal funding on abortion.” But when facing a tough re-election battle after switching his vote, Driehaus, with the help of DFLA, sued the Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List for stating that Driehaus supported taxpayer-funded abortion.

When the compromise was struck, hours before the final vote, top pro-life groups such as the National Right to Life Committee and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops blasted the Executive Order as a vastly inadequate substitute for sealing the Stupak amendment in law. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood celebrated the new law as a victory for reproductive health and dismissed the Executive Order as a “symbolic gesture.”

In an email to supporters Tuesday evening, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said the admission confirmed what pro-life leaders had said all along: that “executive orders can do a lot of things—but impacting the health care law isn’t one of them.”

“Emanuel has just done Republicans a huge favor. By admitting that taxpayer-funded abortion not only exists – but thrives – in the health care law, he’s turned the country’s attention back to the biggest travesty of all,” said Perkins.


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