WASHINGTON The nation's leading pro-life groups were nearly unanimous in opposing the agreement reached between Rep. Bart Stupak and the White House that paved the way for House passage of the health care bill.
House Democratic leaders were still short the necessary 216 votes Sunday afternoon until Stupak, D.-Mich., and a handful of pro-life Democrats said they would vote for the bill after President Obama had pledged to sign an executive order that supposedly would take care of some pro-life concerns. During a press conference, Stupak said the executive order which will be signed after Obama signs the bill into law would ensure that federal dollars don't go toward funding elective abortions at community health centers. Stupak also said the order would strengthen conscience protections for health care workers.
But the nation's pro-life leaders mostly disagreed. Following is a sampling of their comments:
• National Right to Life Committee:
"The executive order promised by President Obama was issued for political effect," National Right to Life said. "It changes nothing. It does not correct any of the serious pro-abortion provisions in the bill. The president cannot amend a bill by issuing an order, and the federal courts will enforce what the law says."
• Gary Bauer, president, American Values:
"When a Republican doesn't vote consistently for conservative principles, he is called a RINO a Republican In Name Only. I don't know what you call a Democrat who betrays his core principles, but this bill should be called the "Stupak Abortion Subsidy Act.
"Rep. Bart Stupak has been elected to Congress as a Democrat since 1992 in a relatively conservative district. But he was always pro-life. Yesterday, Stupak sold out his pro-life values for an executive order from the most pro-abortion president in history. An executive order cannot override legislation. That's why the Hyde Amendment was so important and has been reaffirmed by every Congress for more than 30 years. The Senate bill funds abortion, which is why Stupak consistently said he was a "No" vote until the very end."
• Tony Perkins, president, Family Research Council Action:
"Those few pro-life Democrats that would place the fate of the unborn in the hands of the President, will be placing their own political fate in those same hands secured only by a promise that runs counter to everything he has said and done.
"By offering an executive order as a so-called solution, President Obama is finally admitting there is a problem with a bill that would force taxpayers to pay for elective abortions for the first time in over three decades. However, there is no way that an executive order will protect the unborn or prevent the greatest expansion of elective abortion since Roe v. Wade.
"Pro-life lawmakers would be making a serious mistake to trust those who have repeatedly attempted to mislead the American people into believing that abortion is not in the bill. President Obama and the Democratic leadership know that such a plan, due to legal precedent, would be worth little in the long run. Court rulings in cases such as Commerce of U.S. v Reich and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld make it very clear that such an executive order likely wouldn't survive.
"Regardless of any executive order, the reconciliation bill will make matters worse by increasing funding for community health centers, which will bypass any abortion funding restrictions in appropriations bills because it is directly appropriated.
"The President could also lift such an executive order at any time with a stroke of a pen. During the campaign, President Obama promised he would treat abortion as a basic health care mandate for both taxpayers and private health insurers to subsidize. He told Planned Parenthood that 'reproductive care' would be at the 'center' of his health care plan.
"And after only three days in office, he lifted the Mexico City Policy which prohibited taxpayer funds from going to foreign non-governmental organizations that promote and perform abortions.
"Since massive abortion funding remains in these bills and an executive order would provide no protections, FRC Action still plans to score votes on both the Senate bill and the reconciliation bill in our annual scorecard."
• Phyllis Schlafly, president and founder, Eagle Forum:
"It is naive for any elected official, especially one who describes himself as 'pro-life,' to expect that a promise to issue an Executive Order that reasserts the intentions of the Hyde Amendment will be fulfilled by the most pro-abortion president to ever sit in the White House. Perhaps Mr. Stupak and his fellow pro-life Democrats forget that President Obama's first Executive Order was the repeal of the Mexico City Policy to allow for international funding of abortion.
"Not only would an Executive Order be rendered meaningless in the face of Congress passing legislation which actively provides for the massive expansion and funding of abortion services, but anyone who doubts the abortion tsunami which awaits this bill becoming law lives in a fantasy world.
"Barack Obama has lined every existing federal agency with the most dedicated pro-abortion ideologues, and we know that he will continue this pattern of pro-abortion appointments when it comes time for him to fill the over-100 bureaucracies created to administer his socialized health care program."
• Kristen Day, executive director, Democrats for Life of America:
"We applaud President Obama for his bold leadership in agreeing to an Executive Order that bans taxpayer-funded abortions in the health care reform bill that passed the House," Day said. ...
"We are proud to support this historic health care legislation. President Obama's Executive Order shows that when we work towards common ground in Washington, we can do the people's business and end the gridlock. By working with House leaders and the White House, DFLA shows how pro-life Democrats are a key and growing constituency.
"Hubert H. Humphrey said it best: '... the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.'"
• Marjorie Dannenfelser, president, Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund:
"This Wednesday night (March 24) 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," Dannenfelser said. "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.
"Let me be clear: any representative, including Rep. Stupak, who votes for this healthcare bill can no longer call themselves 'pro-life.' ... The executive order on abortion funding does absolutely nothing to fix the problems presented by the health care reform bill that the House will vote on this evening. The very idea should offend all pro-life Members of Congress. An executive order can be rescinded at any time at the President's whim, and the courts could and have a history of trumping executive orders. Most importantly, pro-abortion Representatives have admitted the executive order is meaningless."
• Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America:
"Our members know that under the Constitution of this country, Congress makes the laws of the country and not the President," Nance said. "This executive order is not worth the paper on which it's written. An executive order from the President can be just as easily undone. The fact that Rep. Stupak says this is a strong statement by President Obama outlining his intent is utterly astounding especially since President Obama is the one who ensured that the Stupak-Pitts pro-life amendment was not included in the Senate bill."
"This is the biggest expansion of abortion funding since Roe v. Wade. And a flimsy promise of an executive order from the President may make it more comfortable for "pro-life" Democrats like Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Michigan) to vote for the bill, but in the end, such an illusory promise is not even worth the paper on which it's written."
• David Stevens, CEO, Christian Medical Association:
"National polling reveals that 95 percent of faith-based physicians say they will be forced to leave medicine without conscience protections. Since the bill passed by Congress does not include strong conscience protections, it opens the door to an increase in discrimination against physicians, hospitals and clinics that decline to participate in abortion and other morally controversial procedures.
"The last-minute deal for an Executive Order relating to abortion and conscience the deal that changed the 'No' votes of pro-life Democrats to 'Yes' was like trading a birthright for a mess of pottage. The executive order, which added no additional conscience protections whatsoever, can be changed tomorrow by this President, or later by any subsequent President, with the stroke of a pen. The healthcare bill, meanwhile, becomes permanent law."
• Day Gardner, president, National Black Pro-Life Union:
"Many Americans put so much trust in Rep. Bart Stupak and the other Democrats who stood with him when they promised that they would stand firm no matter what to ensure there would be NO taxpayer funded abortion," Gardner said. "They caved! A very weary looking Stupak announced that he had changed from No to Yes.
"Don't you get it, Mr. Stupak? President Obama is a staunch abortion supporter! He doesn't care about the 50 million children (including 17 million black babies) that have been butchered by abortionists since 1973. He is not going to give or 'issue' anything of value. He will say whatever it takes to get this horrible bill passed including issuing an Executive Order to do so.... I am truly saddened. Just a few days ago, I saw Bart Stupak as a steadfast warrior a leader who stood on conviction and principles of everything just and righteous but in an instant with a yes vote, he is demolished in my mind becoming nothing but cloud of dust."
BP news was used in this report.