Botched Abortion Commentary

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Eugene Robinson writes,

The GOP strategy is to go after the less popular elements of the reform package. These include a requirement that businesses do a lot more paperwork for the IRS, a measure allowing federal money to pay for abortions in the case of rape or incest, and the mandate compelling individuals to buy health insurance. “We will look at these individual pieces to see if we can’t have the thing crumble,” Upton said (emphasis added).

Robinson is quoting new House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton, who spoke with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. In the sentence immediately before the quoted one, Upton says that what he wants is to enact “the Stupak language.” That’s a clear reference to the Stupak-Pitts amendment to the House health-care bill, which passed on a big bipartisan vote but did not make it through the Senate. That amendment would have allowed funding in cases of rape, incest, and threats to the life of the mother. It would have blocked funding for other abortions.

Upton has elsewhere endorsed two pieces of legislation restricting abortion funding. Both of those bills allow funding in cases of rape, incest, and threats to the life of the mother. Robinson is just wrong here. And his misunderstanding is reflected in his conclusion that the health-care law’s abortion provisions are “fully in keeping with. . . public opinion” and that Democrats should be glad to have a fight over them.

P.S. Robinson assails the Republicans for holding a vote on repeal of Obamacare when they know their bill cannot pass the Senate or be signed by the president. “So this exercise in tilting at windmills can’t even be described as quixotic, since that would imply some expectation of success, however delusional.” Did Robinson make the same complaint when House Democrats voted on S-Chip expansion and embryonic stem-cell funding during the Bush administration? Everyone knew those bills, and many others, weren’t going to become law until we had a new president.