Up until a few days ago Bart Stupak, an unassuming Democratic congressman from Michigan, was a hero among American activists opposed to abortion rights (who refer to themselves as "pro-life"). This was because Stupak had managed to insert strong language in the House of Representatives version of the healthcare bill aimed at preventing any federal tax funds from being used for abortion.
What a difference a weekend makes. President Barack Obama clinched the votes he needed to win passage for his healthcare overhaul on Sunday by winning over a handful of Democratic abortion rights opponents, led by Stupak, with the pledge of an executive order affirming restrictions on the use of federal funds for the procedure.
Stupak was suddenly a traitor to the cause, with barbs like "Judas" thrown his way on the blogosphere. Randy Neugebauer, a Republican congressman from Texas, reportedly yelled "Baby killer!," while Stupak explained why he was finally going to support the bill. Neugebauer was later quoted as saying he was referring to the bill and not Stupak himself, but that is the kind of emotional language one often hears in the shouting matches on this issue.
The Susan B. Anthony List, a conservative group that works to get female opponents of abortion rights elected, said it no longer planned to give Stupak its annual "Defender of Life" Award on Wednesday.
"This Wednesday night is our third annual Campaign for Life Gala, where we were planning to honor Congressman Stupak for his efforts to keep abortion-funding out of health care reform. We will no longer be doing so. By accepting this deal from the most pro-abortion President in American history, Stupak has not only failed to stand strong for unborn children, but also for his constituents and pro-life voters across the country," its president Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement.