A Word on Bart Stupak
September 5th, 2012

I should say that I take no pleasure in noting that the pro-life Democratic caucus is crawling toward extinction. No matter how inadequate or compromised conservatives might think pro-life Democrats are, the truth is that if you really care about eradicating the scourge of abortion they’re absolutely necessary. Because without them, the argument about abortion switches modes from moral persuasion to pure partisanship. And because the latter is so devoid of reason, it’s much harder to win converts.

All of which is to say that I have a great deal of natural sympathy and affinity for Bart Stupak.

Yet at the same time, I think we can fairly lay a great deal of responsibility for the polarization and acrimony of the last four years at his feet.

Our political order is based around what voters believe to be a kind of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for our elected officials. At the top of the pyramid are high-minded hopes about wisdom and judgment. But at the base of the pyramid–the foundation for our relationship with our officials–is that we trust them to be self-interested. That is to say, we trust them not to deliberately do something so abhorrent to us that they know for a certainty it will cost them their jobs.

I would argue that the passage of Obamacare damaged the political order because it broke this basic compact. And I don’t particularly blame President Obama or Nancy Pelosi. Sure, they drove the process. But that’s what their constituencies wanted from them. The engine governor for such radical change has always been guys like Stupak, who wouldn’t go along with it because they knew they couldn’t get away with it.

But Stupak didn’t keep up his end of the bargain. He violated basically every tier of the politician’s Maslow hierarchy: He didn’t believe in Obamacare, he didn’t like Obamacare, and he knew that voting for it would cost him his job because his constituents hated it. But he did it anyway because pure partisanship overrode every other concern. That’s not supposed to happen.

I’m sure Bart Stupak is a kind and gentle soul. But he failed as an elected official, with terrible consequences for the body politic. He abandoned even the old pro-life Democratic line, which may have hardened the fight over abortion into political amber. And his failures are not merely personal. They are a national tragedy.

  1. Thomas H. Crown September 5, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    I think your main article in its close is the more broadly correct of the two. A politician does not know that his election is doomed by a single vote, especially in a district in which he has won many times; he nevertheless knows that he cannot win without party support.

    Stupak was and I believe is a pro-life Democrat. As you say, though, when forced to weigh the two adjectives, the latter won out. It is to his shame that he cannot admit this.

  2. REPLY
  3. Eric377 September 5, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    I would say that a program that expands health insurance coverage by policies that cover pre-natal and obstetrics as well as the health care for the resulting child is very likely to reduce abortions even if the same policy pays for abortion. I have no idea if the executive order the President issued has real teeth or not, but Obamacare should clearly be expected to reduce abortions regardless of the answer to that question.

  4. REPLY
  5. Will Truman September 5, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    This assumes a lot of facts not in evidence. As health care has become more expensive, the abortion rate has fallen. I’m not arguing cause-effect, but I think the case for cause-effect the other direction (that reduced health care costs will result in fewer abortions) needs support.

    On the other hand, making abortions less readily available may have an effect. State-by-state, those states with more providers tend to have lower rate. This may have cause-effect or may not, but it’s pro-choice folks who are arguing that it does have an effect. It seems likely to me that eliminating the cost of an abortion would have a similar effect as making abortion less geographically convenient.

    I could be wrong, but the argument there is stronger than “people are having abortions because they can’t afford health care.” It assumes longer time horizons than most people have.

  6. REPLY
  7. Thomas H. Crown September 5, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    I would say that unicorn steak is absolutely delicious if rubbed with jerk and cooked to medium. Why exactly would “a program that expands health insurance coverage by policies that cover pre-natal and obstetrics as well as the health care for the resulting child” actually reduce the incidence of abortion? If you’re suggesting poverty drives abortion and poverty is linked with poor health outcomes, I with the latter and find the former dubious, but only in both cases because Medicaid is available for the poor.

    For your conclusion to make any sort of sense, we must first assume that there is some statistically significant group of people for whom “how will I afford visits to the emergency room if this child jumps off a bed and cuts his head on an end table” is the dispositive question when deciding whether or not to abort; that this group of people is not covered by Medicaid; and that forty years of data showing that the availability of Medicaid to the poor and generally consistent abortion rates for the lower income brackets are, in fact, not real.

    I’m prepared to entertain this theory if you have data to support it.

  8. REPLY
  9. big12 September 5, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Obama doesn’t care about reducing abortions. He loves them, as do most Democrats.

  10. REPLY
  11. MJ Walters September 5, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Look up Planned Parenthoods founding principles.
    Margaret Sanger believed and PPH believes today that Blacks are an inferior race and should be exterminated thru abortion, look it up!
    Democrats just love killing babies, especially the Black Ones!

  12. REPLY
  13. sharon September 5, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    And I would ask Eric and others how? how would paying for any and all abortions REDUCE them? That is a lie and those who believe this are fools or naive. The way to REDUCE abortion is to make them more difficult to get. Put limits on when an abortion can be performed as we all know that 99.9% are done for CONVENIENCE. That’s a fact. The other way to REDUCE abortion is to PROMOTE contraceptives (ARE YOU LISTENING PRO LIFE REPUBLICANS?). This is the real world and as much as I would like to say that every woman and man behaves morally correct–they do NOT and we have to be pragmatic. To say abortion is morally wrong (and it is) and then to effectively give women Nothing but the rhythm method (the only “contraceptive” approved by the Catholic Church) is also foolish. Should women have access to the contraceptives they want? YES, should taxpayers pay for it? NO. Every year Planned Parenthood brings in over a Half Billion dollars in PRIVATE funding, the other half is given by the Govt. Why Not tell PP to raise ALL of their money Privately???

  14. REPLY
  15. Haile Unlikely September 7, 2012 at 10:47 am

    If one truly cares about preventing abortion, there is no room for shouting matches about what people think should work. What actually does work is an empirical question. It might seem common-sense enough, but much of what initially registers as common sense ultimately works out to be wrong. Putting the words “REDUCE” and “PROMOTE” and a few others in all-caps is insufficient to overcome the absence of factual knowledge.

    For context, Haile Unlikely is pro-life and is a registered independent. Haile wants to prevent abortion as much as anybody, but Haile has little patience for opinions and guesses masquerading as facts.

  16. REPLY
  17. Galley Wife September 5, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    This will cheer you: when I picked CJP up from preschool today, he declared, “I’m going to write a book this year.” (Galley Friends, he’s four.) I told him that sounded like a good project and that I couldn’t wait to read it. He then told me, “Well, it will probably take me about fifty years to write…I will do it faster than Daddy did.”

    : )

  18. REPLY
  19. ChrisinTampa September 5, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    That’s awesome!

  20. REPLY
  21. Galley Wife September 6, 2012 at 11:42 am

    JVL, on the way in this morning he revised his initial estimate down to a mere fifteen years.

    So, still faster. : )

  22. REPLY
  23. steve September 5, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    “Because without them, the argument about abortion switches modes from moral persuasion to pure partisanship. And because the latter is so devoid of reason, it’s much harder to win converts.”

    Too late. The pro-abortion left took over the party a generation ago. We’re just watching the last spasms of what’s left of the pro-life faction in the party. Look at the convention in Charlotte… not a single pro-life speaker on the schedule, but Sandra Fluke gets a speaking role? That tells you everything you need to know about this party. The DLC-types have lost any say and the nutters have taken over. No pretense about “choice”, age of viability, safe-legal-rare, etc. just unrestricted access to elective abortion to feed the party platform of uninhibited sexual libertinism.

    And partisanship is not inherently devoid of reason; however the left is.

  24. REPLY
  25. StraightThinker September 5, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Plus he was duped. He was promised Obamacare would not pay for abortion. How a politician could be so naive is ridiculous.

  26. REPLY
  27. MJ Walters September 5, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Because he has no moral compass, and therefore no soul that will survive time!

  28. REPLY
  29. ChrisinTampa September 5, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    Amen…he was/is a fool…

  30. REPLY
  31. Sage September 11, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    Nobody who has been in politics that long is really that unaware of basic political reality. It was ALWAYS obvious that the EO not only had no teeth, but would be reversed instantly, and so it was. Stupak has been around far too long, and has known far too many radical pro-abortionists like Barack Obama, to actually believe that the “cross my heart” EO was anything other than political cover for one Bart Stupak.

    And no halfway sentient observer ought to be foolish enough to buy into Stupak’s self-serving post-facto excuse that he was “confused” by the reversal and feels that he was “let down” by the President. The fact that his latter day regrets carry no serious indignation, express no serious anger at the President and his HHS Secretary, in short are devoid of anything like sincere outrage, ought to be a hint that he knew it was coming all along and just wanted the political cover he had to have in the form of an EO.

    Anybody who doesn’t see this is a more gullible fool than Bart Stupak ever was.

  32. REPLY
  33. Amos September 5, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Hey. good article, but the word isn’t “over-road,” it’s “overrode.”

  34. REPLY
  35. harold September 5, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    I like Bart Stupak. I’d watched him over the years, squaring the circle and upholding the values of Northern Michigan, a hardworking Scandinavian social democrat bunch that never forgot first principles. He stumbled and broke, and so might we all, if put to the test.

    I’m waiting for some “political scientist” to put it just like you have here, Mr. Last, that Stupak failed himself, his constituents, the country AND his party, which wouldn’t have been bombed in 2010 if they’d merely adopted language he advocated. That failure cost the D’s Stupak’s seat and Schauer’s in Michigan-7, two congressional seats in one state alone.

    The Left is still whistling past the graveyard here. They never believed ObamaCare was a negative for them, and they still don’t. It’s time they learned it is, because that incompetent politics hurt them AND the rest of us, and they should know that by now.

  36. REPLY
  37. JohnLeeHooker September 5, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Stupak and Kucinich deserve a special place in…well you know. Both clearly, blatantly and shamefully SOLD OUT and knew they were doing it at the time.

    In so doing, they have visited terrible damage to an entire country.

  38. REPLY
  39. ChrisinTampa September 5, 2012 at 11:04 pm


  40. REPLY
  41. Centurio September 6, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Stupak sold out big time. He deserves no sympathy for his nativity. It cost us plenty.

  42. REPLY
  43. R. L. Hails Sr. P. E. September 5, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    The historical contribution of Bart Stupak is that he brought abortion policy into sharp focus. The Stupak deal, which brought the necessary votes to pass Obamacare, turned out to be a fraud. Stupak was had; he was the simpleton who fell off the turnip truck. For Catholics, and most church – synagogue attending people, abortion (in the precise words of the Catholic bishops) is “intrinsically evil”, an act, which by its nature, is evil. Thus, in this election, the voters are given a crystal clear choice: do you vote for homicide of a baby? Will you force employers, who self insure, to fund something they consider evil? If so, the freedom of religion words in our Constitution are meaningless. Bart Stupak gave us this clear choice; there is no pro life Democrat anymore.

  44. REPLY
  45. ChrisinTampa September 5, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    That pretty much sums up my thoughts the past few days…I would also then ask the question “is it possible to be a believing (versus a I’ve been sitting the pew because I’ve always done it) Christian AND vote democrat?”. Seems you are lying about one of those things.

  46. REPLY
  47. JohnInFlorida September 9, 2012 at 8:01 am

    Chris …
    “is it possible to be a believing … Christian AND vote democrat?”

    My wife and I have often brought that question (re: abortion) to those who profess to be both (Christian and Democrat) … the usual response is either eyes turned away and a quick departure or a change into “rant mode” regarding the control of a woman’s body. While I have no desire to control any other body, I do desire that the body inside hers remain safe.

  48. REPLY
  49. moderateGuy September 5, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    You could say that pro-life Demokrats have been stupaked, not unlike the unborn under in ObamaCare

  50. REPLY
  51. Joe September 5, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Right on point but you’re story is missing one important fact.

    What is Stupak doing now?

    Is he cashing in on his time in Congress?

  52. REPLY
  53. kevin September 5, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Sandra Fluke is a dirty slut.

    Bart stupak sold his soul for partisanship and should be ashamed of himself. Democrats keep blocking things republicans are trying to do to save America. Obamination is the problem he is a liar , deceitful and a divider.

    Gary johnson 2012

  54. REPLY
  55. MJ Walters September 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Would love to be a fly on the wall when he stands before my God!

  56. REPLY
  57. JohnInFlorida September 9, 2012 at 7:50 am

    Name calling does nothing except reduce the perceived intelligence of the one doing the calling. Kevin, you might want to rethink your approach to commenting in these forums. In addition, the “Gary johnson 2012” indicates you to be a dreamer as well.
    As unhappy as we may be with the entire slate of candidates for President, the level of evil embodied in Mr. Obama requires that we unite behind Mr. Romney, as distasteful as that may be. Once Mr. Obama has been removed, and those of his persuasion in the Congress have been slapped down to manageable levels, we can then turn our attention to repairing the damage done by Progressives over the last century.

    Repeal the 17th, enforce the 10th and may God bless America!

  58. REPLY
  59. Wednesday’s Reading Room « scottwilder.com September 5, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    […] A Word on Bart Stupak FacebookTwitterLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Published in: […]

  60. REPLY
  61. Eric377 September 5, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Obamacare may be a deadletter by this time next year. But if not, once 2014 comes and goes it is going to be a program that delivers hundreds of billions of dollars to American families to help them with their health insurance needs. And shortly thereafter we will never again hear “repeal and replace” – it will all be about expansion. It took under a decade for Medicare drug benefits to be created until the pressure was too intense not to close the doughnut hole of costs that certain beneficiaries faced. Stupak is probably pretty at ease with himself.

  62. REPLY
  63. Pauli September 5, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Being pro-life is simply not tolerated in the Democrat party anymore.

  64. REPLY
  65. tony d September 5, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Stupak’s behavior should be remembered with anger for the betrayal it was. I for one don’t think there are pro life dems. Legal abortion will end when we bring images of it into every living room in America. When we refuse and reject ‘ pro choice ‘ ideology.

  66. REPLY
  67. 2ndAmendment September 5, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    Wrong. Abortion will end temporarily when we have a GOP President, 50-votes in the Senate & the House.

    In other words: in February next year – if there is no voter fraud.

    Abortion will end permanently when we have 5-GOP judges on the supreme court – in other words, in 2 or 3 years time.

  68. REPLY
  69. sharon September 5, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    Something I pray for every day.

  70. REPLY
  71. Sage September 11, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    Abortion won’t end in this country, ever. The Supreme Court would, at most, reverse Roe. But reversing Roe would not magically create a legal “ban” on abortion anywhere. It would remain legal almost everywhere in the United States.

    People have to understand this, because it’s essential to understanding the nature of the task we face as pro-lifers.

  72. REPLY
  73. semby September 5, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    He failed the America people.

  74. REPLY
  75. Chris Wadlington September 5, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    I am better off than 4 years ago as a small business owner. I have
    started 3 start ups in the last 4 years, and after a real rough
    2007-2008, have maintained and grown my top line revenue and
    profits, and increased my employee head count in a business I have owned for 15
    years as well. Self made entrepreneur, from a single family, single
    income household, father was a school teacher so could not borrow from him…some
    college, no degree father of 5 grown children, married for 28 yrs.
    Government helped with SBA loans when I needed them early on, and would
    love to know that others have the same chance as I had. Will gladly pay
    more taxes to enable government to make the investment necessary to
    improve the opportunity for my kids. Will pay more if others can get
    better health care or those who have none have some. I was taught that
    helping others was being American, and I am a patriotic American. How you like
    those apples?

  76. REPLY
  77. Michael D September 5, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Good for you self made entrepreneur. You should try helping the needy directly instead of patting yourself on the back for doing it through taxes and government programs. Yes, this way you actually have to rub elbows with the needy, but you get a lot more satisfaction as a result. Although from reading your post, you seem pretty satisfied with yourself already.

  78. REPLY
  79. ChrisinTampa September 5, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    Actually I’m thinking you’re a troll on this site…but your “story” probably sounds great when you write it into the letters to the editor of the NYT or WaPo…

  80. REPLY
  81. MJ Walters September 5, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Bart Stupak is a Sleazeball weasel and a lying sack of crap!

  82. REPLY
  83. WJFord September 5, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Bart Stupak switched his position on Obamacare using the Catholic nuns (Owners of Catholic Hospital Systems and the Catholic Health Association) for cover. Now, that part of Obamacare (the HHS Mandate) presents an existential threat to those same hospitals, the nuns are begging for HHS to change it’s mandate regarding coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, etc. Oh the tangled webs we weave.

    We may never justify a wrong in the vain hope that we can see a good will emerge in the end. Bart Stupak is guilty of multiple wrongs. Let us pray.

  84. REPLY
  85. MaryOk September 5, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Glad to hear of your success, but it’s an atypical story, so far as I know.

  86. REPLY
  87. Mr. Lynch September 5, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Mr. Stupak was amply warned that his amendment would not work, AND that PPACA had a lot of undefined stuff in it.

    That he thought the “compromise” was worth it was wishful thinking — practically delusional.

  88. REPLY
  89. Curt September 5, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    Chris W – Good for you and your family. How does this article alter your world? Bart sacrified his honor so the Government that helped you can now fund a national program that will kill unwanted babies. Bart and the Democrats have made us all unwilling participants in these murders. “Opportunity for kids….Helping others….Patriotic America”. For the life of me, I do not understand this logic.

  90. REPLY
  91. Sue September 5, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    but, now Bart has a great job at a Democratic think tank. job bought and paid for with his support of Obamacare.

  92. REPLY
  93. Jack September 5, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    You missed the other side of the argument. Stupak has always said he supported finding a way to insure the uninsured. Remember that Republicans, whether pro-choice or pro-life, are not in favor of spending taxpayer money to help working people. Democrats on the other hand, are.

    So let’s put it this way:

    1. He was pro-life.

    2. He was a Democrat being worked on by Pelosi and Obama.

    3. Other than the abortion issue, philosophically he agreed with the thrust of the bill itself.

    So maybe it should not have been that surprising that he went with 2 out of 3.

  94. REPLY
  95. Deedee September 5, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    What a crock. I was one of Bart’s constituents. He sacrificed his career so the many many people of his district would finally get some relief from the constant specter of no health insurance. Jobs are very few and far between in that area for much more than the last six years and if the Health Care Act is implemented it will be a godsend to this part of the country. Shame on the fake alligator tears over his vote. He will be remembered for saving people’s lives.

  96. REPLY
  97. josephine September 5, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Stupak was the heartbreaker. Mr. Last is charitable with Bart, but does correctly lays the tragic crack up at his feet. The term “political whore” painfully comes to mind, both then and now.

  98. REPLY
  99. peteinny September 5, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    You’re right but too charitable. Stupak would have special level in Dante’s inferno reserved for him- a person who betrays his principles, his people and his religion for temporary political gain. Scum is too kind a word

  100. REPLY
  101. SteveN September 5, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    What evidence is there that Stupak didn’t like Obamacare in general? He was opposed to public funding of abortion, but other than that he was on board. Just like Dolan is. They don’t give a rat’s ass if my rights are trampled upon, just as long as they can maintain the fiction that the American Catholic Church is pro-life, and not the socialist abomination that Bernardin made it.

  102. REPLY
  103. vicki wicker September 6, 2012 at 2:09 am

    Add Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas to that list. Her vote ended her political career. Her constituency was against Obamacare at 70%, but she still voted for it, and she was gone in the blink of an eye. And a political pariah to boot in her home state.

  104. REPLY
  105. vicki wicker September 6, 2012 at 2:18 am

    I amazed at the foolishness of Democrats who believe Obamacare will suddenly provide quality health care for the uninsured. What a joke. The truth is very few people in this country go without health care. No one can be turned away from a public hospital. By law. It can’t happen. My husband is a nurse in an ER and they must treat anybody and everybody who presents himself regardless of ability to pay. All Obamacare does is add pages and pages and pages of budget busting regulations to healthcare providers and funds all their ridiculous little pet projects. Sex changes. Yee ha. Now my tax dollars can go to pay for someone’s sex change. Abortions are simply the tip of the spear. The simple solution would have been to give the poor a stipend to buy health insurance. But then the control freak liberals would not have had an excuse to go in and regulate from the federal level every pill you take for the rest of your life. Get used to it. Health care as we knew it is going down the drain.

  106. REPLY
  107. John Vallus September 6, 2012 at 5:52 am

    Its a crime to eat Unicorns, haven’t you ever read Harry Potter?

  108. REPLY
  109. kevin September 6, 2012 at 8:09 am

    Well stated, Mr. Last. thank you.

  110. REPLY
  111. mulp September 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    The logic above applied to the second amendment:

    The right to own as many glocks and ar-15s with large magazines is god given in the second amendment.

    Glocks and ar-15s with large magazines are the best was to kill and maim a large number of innocent people.

    The second amendment right to personal guns with large magazines is intended to promote the killing and maiming of a large number of innocent people.


    After all, the only reason for a right to abortion is to kill innocent fetuses, so anyone who supports the right to abortion wants lots of innocent fetuses to be killed, just like the reason to a right to guns is to kill innocent people, so everyone who supports the second amendment wants the mass murder of innocent people with glocks and ar-15s with large magazines.

    Ok, enough wallowing in the conservative world of absolutism and time to return to the real world where everyone lives.

    Very few women purposely get pregnant to the pay a lot of money for a poor person to get an abortion, when a middle class woman with standard employer benefits will easily get any of many family planning services that will prevent unwanted pregnancy, and the only reason for an abortion is the 1% where the fetus is defective or is putting the woman at risk.

    And I remember the 60s when conservatives supported abortions because they were cowering in fear of the hordes of two billion Commie Chinese and two billion Marxist Indians taking over the planet and consuming all the resources unless their reproduction was curtailed, and no alternative to abortion would limit them reproducing like rabbits. Even with decades of abortions on large scale limiting the number of children to well under two, gasoline prices are four times what it was in the 90s thanks to Chinese capitalists buying the same number of cars as Americans, and that with only a quarter of them able to buy cars.

    If China and India were each at two billion people, growing rapidly in population, and also growing in demand for oil and other natural resources, squeezing out Americans, conservatives would be strong advocates of abortion to limit their population growth, just like they were back in the cold war era when the alternative was population control by mutual assured destruction in global nuclear war.

  112. REPLY
  113. Nedward September 7, 2012 at 5:26 am

    Nah, the reason liberals oppose the 2nd Amendment is because they’re more likely to live in the city than conservatives are. In hippy-dippy prog paradise Vermont, plenty of folks have guns (if not the personal Uzis and howitzers of your fevered imagination)