Can the Health Care Bill Survive Abortion?

Pundts wonder if Democrats can stick together in the Senate

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The Democrats' health care bill passed in the House last weekend, but not without a last-minute amendment banning federal funds from subsidizing abortions. Now explosive divisions over the Stupak Amendment threaten to derail the bill in the Senate. Despite a warning to Democrats from former President Bill Clinton Tuesday that the "the worst thing to do is nothing," a number of key lawmakers from both camps appear unwilling to compromise on the amendment. Can the health care bill survive the abortion debate?

  • Democratic Waterloo At Red State, Dan McLaughlin thinks the bill is looking less and less likely to pass because of divisions within the Democratic Party. He also argues that abortion isn't the only issue in the health care bill dividing Democrats.
The political reality remains: there may not be enough votes to pass the final bill with the Stupak Amendment, because of intransigence from pro-choice Democrats, and there may not be enough votes to pass the final bill without the Stupak Amendment, because of intransigence from pro-life Democrats. And that's even before we get to the fissures among the Democrats and with the public at large over taxes, spending, individual mandates, the public option, tort reform, immigration, and euthanasia.
  • No Easy Way Out For Dems The Politico's Alexander Burns says "the sudden spasm of intense debate over abortion on Capitol Hill this week threatens not only to stall the passage of health care legislation, but also to shatter the delicate cease-fire that has governed the abortion issue during the Obama era." In Burns's mind, Democrats only have two choices if the bill is going to pass, and both of them entail losses. "After months of dodging high-profile confrontations over abortion, Democrats -- including President Barack Obama -- find themselves faced with a stark set of alternatives: Support a bill that imposes limits on access to abortion or demand one that might, however indirectly, fund the procedure with taxpayer money."
  • Good Old Party Dysfunction  Joe Weisenthal of The Business Insider says "the Democratic party has returned to form, re-establishing its reputation as one big circular firing squad, incapable of being the majority party."
  • Liberals Will Swallow The Bitter Pill At Newsweek, Katie Connolly says pro-choice Democrats aren't likely to do anything to kill health care reform, even if it means voting for the Stupak amendment. "After Saturday's historic win for health-care reform in the House, it seems deeply unlikely liberals will throw a year's worth of legislative work─and decades of effort─on the trash heap over this issue. Moderates on the other hand, don't seem to share those qualms."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.