In Rep. Stupak’s view, securing President Obama’s executive order on abortion funding was “absolutely” a success for the pro-life cause and for the country.
In the course of the interview, CNA asked Rep. Stupak about remarks he reportedly made accusing the U.S. bishops and pro-life groups of hypocrisy.
The Daily Caller had reported that Rep. Stupak said he suspected groups such as the U.S. bishops’ conference (USCCB), the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) and others were “just using the life issue to try to bring down health care reform.”
“Did they want to protect the sanctity of life or did they want to protect health care?” the Daily Caller reported Stupak as saying.
The Congressman initially denied this was an accurate account, but then commented further.
He told CNA he questioned whether some of the pro-life groups “were more interested in protecting the sanctity of life or defeating health care.”
Asked if he included the U.S. bishops in that, he replied “not necessarily.”
Since the time he made remarks questioning pro-life groups’ motives, he said, the U.S. bishops’ most recent statement has led him to believe they were still interested in passing health care.
“National Right to Life, I don’t think they ever were. I think they were more interested in defeating the health care bill, no matter what it costs.
“But at the time I made that statement, yeah, the way I explained it, that’s true.”
He stated that both NRLC and the bishops wanted statutory language to “protect the sanctity of life in the bill.”
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“So do I, that was the Stupak Amendment, we passed that in the House,” the lawmaker told CNA.
“The reality is, in Senate you need 60 votes, we have 45 pro-life votes, as I’ve told both the Catholic bishops and Right to Life.
“Help me find 15 more votes, and we’ll pass your statutory language. Until that time, we cannot. Therefore we have to do all we can to protect the sanctity of life, and that is why the executive order, the colloquy, and the language of the bill will, to my mind, protect the sanctity of life.”
He quoted the executive order, which says it “maintains current Hyde Amendment restrictions governing abortion policy and extends those restrictions to the newly created health insurance exchanges.”
CNA asked whether he thought the bishops’ actions in the health care debate helped secure the executive order. “No, because they wouldn’t support it,” Stupak replied. The fate of the Stupak Amendment was “decided in December,” he added.
For the bishops or any others to seek statutory language and not agree to an executive order, is “pie in the sky,” in Rep. Stupak’s opinion.