National Right to Life Committee: The Wayward Weigh In

The problematic nature of pandering to politicians with half-measures while announcing to pro-life troops that a victory has been achieved is not a new malady. It has been a relatively consistent pattern woven into National Right to Life Committee politics for many years now.  Having said that, the problem with what is currently being said about the Stupak Amendment to the Pelosicare bill is the most egregious I have seen in my 40 years of pro-life activism.

For starters, on Saturday, November 7, NRLC sent a letter to each member of Congress in which the following statement was made: 

“As NRLC’s congressional scorecard for the 111th Congress will clearly explain, a vote against the Stupak-Pitts Amendment only be construed as a position-defining vote in favor of establishing a federal government program that will directly fund abortion on demand, with federal funds, and a second federal program that will provide government subsidies to private insurance plans that cover abortion on demand. NRLC regards this as the most important House roll call on federal funding of abortion since the House last voted directly on the Hyde Amendment in 1997. If you do not wish to go on record in support of creating major new federal programs that will both fund abortions directly and subsidize private abortion coverage, please vote for the Stupak-Pitts Amendment. NRLC will regard a “present” vote as equivalent to a negative vote on the Stupak-Pitts Amendment.”

While it could appear that NRLC is threatening members of Congress with a bad score if they vote against the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, the fact is that the amendment itself is halfhearted and fraught with problems. And if one examines the actual text of H. R. 3962, the Pelosicare bill, one finds the following:


This should make it obvious to anyone with a heart for the principles upon which the pro-life movement was founded to see right through the smoke and mirrors that NRLC is now using to deflect criticism from its political misjudgment.

To make matters worse, as if they could get worse, published an article entitled “Pro-Life Movement Must Unify After Strategy Difference on Stupak Abortion Amendment.” Its simply unbelievable observations, pitting Congressman John Shadegg of Arizona’s strategy against that of the Stupak supporters, defy logic. Steven Ertelt describes what Shadegg attempted to do to ensure the abominable Pelosicare bill’s failure and then defends the Stupak strategy, claiming that with or without the Stupak Amendment, the bill would have passed. Interesting how he defends the NRLC strategy as the only real game in town.

But the most troubling comments come toward the end of the article, where we find these Ertelt insights: 

The aftermath of the Stupak amendment vote hasn’t been pretty. I’ve read countless comments on Twitter and Facebook from pro-life people who are livid at one side or the other.

But attacking pro-life groups, lawmakers or people for supporting one strategy or the other is not productive. We have so many battles ahead that a divided pro-life movement only leads to losing the battles on abortion funding and stopping this pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia health care bill.

Even with Stupak added, every pro-life group admits that rationing and conscience issues remain and that the bill still has concerns or the pro-life movement. No pro-life group — and even the bishops despite some mis-reporting in the mainstream media — are supporting the House bill as approved.

Let’s cease the attacks on one another. This is only a strategic debate between people who wholeheartedly want to see abortion end immediately if not sooner and not a matter of one side or the other abandoning pro-life principles. We all want to get the ball in the end zone and some of us want to pass and some to run the ball.

There are too many unborn children and elderly and disabled at risk in the health care bill to let this one inning (excuse the mixed sports metaphors) define where we go as a pro-life community. There is an entire game to be played and adopting Stupak has riled and motivated the pro-abortion forces. Divided, they win, but united we can stop abortion funding and defeat this pro-abortion, pro-rationing bill.

Ertelt’s description of the pro-abortion forces is, of course, correct. NARAL Pro-Choice America has described the Stupak Amendment as “extreme anti-choice politics.” Of course it’s riled; not a single baby should be protected by law, according to its strategic plan. And it’s united with its fellow pro-deathers, including Planned Parenthood, which claims the Stupak Amendment is an “unacceptable addition to the health care reform bill that, if enacted, would result in women losing health benefits they have today.”

In fact, Planned Parenthood is so upset it even forgot to mention that if this bill passes, with or without the Stupak language, Planned Parenthood’s already-huge government subsidies will increase dramatically. Gee whiz! How could it have been so absentminded?

I hope my point has been made. Regardless of who is riled, who is playing politics with babies’ lives or who is running for cover as they try to make lemonade out of the lemons they’ve tossed at principle, nobody should be pleased at the prospect of government-run health care. In case we have forgotten, dear friends at NRLC, this is the very government that thirsts for the blood of the innocent in unimaginable quantities!

Obama supporters’ “health care reform” bills, regardless of their title or bill number, are so fatally flawed that wise pro-life strategists would have withheld any 11th-hour efforts, including the back-room meeting orchestrated by the USCCB and NRLC that led to the Stupak fiasco. The concerns that Ertelt now mentions about rationing and conscience protections were a concern before Stupak and still are. And, of course (though curiously absent from his analysis), increased funding for PP, abortive birth control and the like, which have been included in every version of this “health care reform” effort and are equally disquieting. All of these provisions should have been sufficient for pro-life activists of every stripe to simply walk away, continue to preach the full pro-life message and let the bill go down in flames.

Instead, we have this silly argument about how we all have to go along, now that the Stupak language is in the bill, and do our best, tra la, tra la, tra la la la.

Well, sorry, but I don’t buy it! When people fail to be honest in their interpretations of pro-life philosophy before a major political effort, what will they do afterward? Now we know. They will spin a tale, whether valid or not, about uniting forces and pressing on.

Agreed. Now that the water is over the dam and the damage is done, we all must do one simple thing! We must demand that the following be included in any health care reform proposal:

Respect for human personhood, respect for human personhood and respect for human personhood.

If this single principle were the cornerstone of reasonable health care reform—a reform based on justice for all—there would be no anti-life provisions in at all. As of this writing and regardless of which bill we read, none measure up to this standard, and thus all should be opposed.

But this is probably why American Life League does not get invited to those closed-door, 11th-hour meetings wherein some individuals negotiate away principle in order to rush out celebrating a fictitious success. Frankly, we at American Life League get on our knees and thank God that we are not invited to such events, as we would prefer to serve the best interest of the human person—who deserves equal protection under the law at all stages of life—rather than serve the special interests of Democrats and/or Republicans who are convinced that playing games with human lives is acceptable practice.

NRLC has exposed its agenda. While it’s surely no surprise, it is also deplorable. The good news is that this is not the final act in the “health care reform” drama.

So … now that the wayward have weighed in, the rest of us better get busy focusing on human personhood.