Congressman Bart Stupak, D-Mich, responded sharply to White House officials touting a letter representing 59,000nuns that was sent to lawmakers urging them to pass the health care bill.
The conservative Democrat dismissed the action by the White House saying, "When I'm drafting right to life language, I don't call up the nuns." He says he instead confers with other groups including "leading bishops, Focus on the Family, and The National Right to Life Committee."
Stupak also maintains that he still has a solid group of 12 House Democrats who will go along with him and vote against the reconciliation package if there isn't a ban on taxpayer-funded abortion.
He met with them Tuesday and said the White House has not successfully peeled off any of them.
The Michigan lawmakers carries the list of the 12 lawmakers allied with him in his pocket, "K Street thinks they know who is on the list. They don't. There are some surprises on there.
Never mind that many of the nuns represented by the letter are on the front lines of this country's broken health care system:
As the heads of major Catholic women’s religious order [sic] in the United States, we represent 59,000 Catholic Sisters in the United States who respond to needs of people in many ways. Among our other ministries we are responsible for running many of our nation’s hospital systems as well as free clinics throughout the country.
We have witnessed firsthand the impact of our national health care crisis, particularly its impact on women, children and people who are poor. We see the toll on families who have delayed seeking care due to a lack of health insurance coverage or lack of funds with which to pay high deductibles and co-pays. We have counseled and prayed with men, women and children who have been denied health care coverage by insurance companies. We have witnessed early and avoidable deaths because of delayed medical treatment.
Never mind too that the nuns find the Senate bill's restrictions on federal abortion funding satisfactory, or that Stupak's longtime Congressional ally Dale Kildee, who spent six years studying for the priesthood, is "convinced that the Senate language maintains the Hyde amendment, which states that no federal money can be used for abortion,” or that Stupak has been caught lying about the Senate bill's adherence to the Hyde Amendment, or that there is strong evidence from Massachusetts and worldwide that expanding health insurance access reduces abortions.
Stupak has a list in his pocket. So did Joe McCarthy -- an entirely fictional one. Stupak does have pro-life colleagues who stood with him when he negotiated his anti-choice amendment to the House bill, some of whom have indicated that they are with him still. But does he have them in his pocket? If I were a member of the alleged Stupak 12, I'd feel as belittled by him as the nuns were.
Here's hoping that Stupak's political capital proves to be as much sham as his moral capital.