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In the long battle in the House of Representatives to pass health care reform, Democrats made a big concession. The "Stupak Amendment," proposed by Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak, would restrict federal funding from paying for abortions. The pro-life provision passed 240-194, with support from 64 Democrats. The amendment made it easier for moderate Democrats to support the final health care bill, which passed 220-215. Yet Speaker Nancy Pelosi and liberal House Democrats are known for being strongly pro-choice. How did a concession against a core Democratic plank save one of the party's most ambitious bills in a generation?

Stupak may have saved health care reform, but the amendment will severely restrict abortion rights in the U.S., which has liberal Democrats threatening to divide the party.

  • GOP 'Enabling' Health Care Reform Hot Air's Karl worries House Republicans missed an opportunity to kill Saturday's health care reform bill. "If 25-30 GOPers voted 'present' on the Stupak amendment, there would be some trouble on the House floor," because the Stupak amendment would have failed and pro-life Democrats would have voted against the final health care bill, thus killing it. "The House GOP intends to enable pro-life Dems to provide the winning margin for ObamaCare in the House."
  • Boehner Walked Into An Ambush Conservative blogger Allahpundit thinks Republican leadership let themselves get played by Democrats. "The vote on the [Stupak] amendment is 236/190 as I write this, which is bad news. Not only is there no guarantee that the amendment will survive the conference committee with the Senate (or a Supreme Court challenge, natch), but this gives pro-life Blue Dogs the cover they need to vote for the final bill. It's going to pass. Sigh," he writes. "A smart minority party would have voted present and made the Dems choke on it. Alas, this is our minority party." Allahpundit quotes a GOP press release that reads, "We believe you just don't play politics with life."
  • Life As a Minority Party The Moderate Voice's Jazz Shaw scoffs, "the real eye opener was exactly how out of practice the GOP seems to be at fighting from the cheap seats." Shaw writes of the 64 Democrats who voted for the Stupak amendment, "There were already three dozen more Democrats who had gone on record as saying they couldn't vote for Pelosi's bill without the amendment. Hello? McFly! McFly! Is anybody home?" Shaw adds, "Unfortunately, the Republicans spent a long time in the majority, and I fear they've forgotten how to fight from the minority side."
  • The Failed GOP Plan The National Review's Robert Costa explains that Republicans thought the pro-life amendment would cause infighting within the Democrats, killing reform. "Stupak should be supported because it preserves current abortion law and blocks federal funding, as well as dividing the Democratic caucus. This is the best way to defeat the bill at its next stage, one says. 'The Democrats will battle it out.'" Of course, it didn't play out that way.
  • But At What Cost for Dems? Conservative blogger William A. Jacobson calls it a "Pyrrhic victory" that will cause problems with the liberal wing of the party. "There will be hell to pay for Democrats who voted in favor of the Stupak amendment," he writes. "There will be hell to pay for Democrats from red states and swing states, from Republicans, independents, and moderate Democrats. Names are being taken, and 2010 will be the most vicious political campaign any of us have seen. Ever."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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