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November 3, 2010

More Pro-Life Dems Axed

Democrats lose over half of their pro-life members.

For pro-life Democrats, it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad election day.

When Bart Stupak (D-MI) and his coalition of pro-life Democrats cast their vote for the final health care bill in the House, they were called turncoats by some, profiles in courage by others. Today, most of them have a new label: unemployed.

All told, three out of five members of the Stupak coalition will not return in January. Stupak and four others opted not to run for reelection. Alan Mollohan (WV-1) was defeated in the primary. Another sixteen lost in the general election yesterday.

The ones that retained their seats did so because they faced little serious opposition. Sanford Bishop (D, GA-2) was one exception. In August and early October, Bishop was viewed as fairly secure. Recent polls, however, had showed him trailing his opponent by five points. Bishop hung on last night, winning his south Georgia district.

Pro-life groups took aim at several of Stupak's coalition. The efforts paid off. Steve Driehaus(D, OH-1) and Kathleen Dahlkemper (D, PA-3) lost, as expected. James Oberstar (D, MN-8) was thought to be a stronger candidate, but he also lost. Jim Oberstar (D, MN-8) was the rare member of the Stupak coalition to win despite active campaigning against him by pro-life and pro-family groups such as CitizenLink.

But the losses of pro-life Democrats was sometimes unrelated to the health care vote. In fact, Democrats with rock solid pro-life voting records who also opposed the health care bill did worse than those in the Stupak coalition.

Such causalities from yesterday include:

-- Bobby Bright (D, AL-2)
-- James Marshall (D, GA-8)
-- Ike Skelton (D, MO-4)
-- Travis Childers (D, MS-1)
-- Gene Taylor (D, MS-4)
-- Lincoln Davis (D, TN-4)

In addition, Charles Melancon (D, LA-3) opted not to run. The pro-life Democrats remaining in the House after the election are

-- Daniel Lipinski (D, IL-3),
-- Douglas McIntyre (D, NC-7)
-- Heath Shuler (D, NC-11)
-- David Boren (D, OK-2)

In the Democratic caucus, there were (at most) 50 pro-life members, members who would be willing to cosponsor and vote for many pro-life bills. Starting in January, that number will be just 20. And of these, only a handful would be considered pro-life by national pro-life organizations.

Editor's note: See more details in the story posted on our website today.
This post has been updated to reflect that Charles Melancon is from Louisiana.


Tobin: Just to clarify, Rep. Melancon is not from Missouri, he actually represented Louisiana's 3rd congressional district. And while you are correct in saying he chose not to run for re-election to the House seat, it was because he was running for U.S. Senate against Sen. David Vitter (R).

Shows that many of these pro-life groups are more interested in political power than actually accomplishing any real reduction in abortions.

I'm afraid you're right Adam. We should rejoice when pro-life people are elected - the party affiliation doesn't matter. In fact, I'll go one step farther - it is more important to have pro-life people in the Democrat camp than the Republican one.

I believe you are mistaked in your characterization of Sanford Bishop (GA 2)as prolife. He is not prolife and as far as I know has never voted prolife. He has a 77% rating from Planned Parenthood.

Catherine, I don't know Sanford Bishop. But I looked up some of his record. This may not be representative, but what I found was he voted to ban human cloning, voted for Stupak amendment, voted to ban family planning funding in US aid, voted to make harming a fetus a federal crime, voted to restrict interstate transport of minors for abortions, voted yes for the banning of partial birth abortion and only had a 30% rating by NARAL. I couldn't find a rating for him by planned parenthood that was not on a pro-life page that was trying to get him voted out. I did see Democrats for Life gave him an 80% rating in 2006.

Yet more evidence that this election was not about the abortion issue or most other social issues on the whole. It was much more about the economy and voter frustration related to that. These losses are more in the realm of collateral damage.

It's sad to lose pro-life people of any party. But the abortion issue alone ought not define what it means to be pro-life. It's equally sad to me to see the blanket condemnations of healthcare reform by republicans, with Evanglical organizations eagerly following that lead. There is much in that law that affirms life and helps the weakest among us, including prohibition of denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, coverage for kids until age 26, coverage for end of life care (not the fictional "death panels" we heard so much about). From what I've heard this election cycle, the Republicans are ready to shove the entire thing under the bus and evangelicals are ready to cheer them on as they do so. That's appalling to me. Can't we carry on a serious discussion of the pros and cons of this or any issue without getting hammered by partisan political stances and snappy but misleading slogans? Aren't we as Christians called to seek the truth, period, including when it's complex and multi-faceted?

Has anyone looked at the pro-life/pro-choice status of the congresspersons who will replace these pro-life Dems? If they are AS pro-life, then it’s a wash; and if they are MORE pro-life, then it’s a win for life. Right?

Charmaine Yost of AUL has said that Obamacare is “the largest expansion of federal funding for abortion ever”. If you voted for that bill, exactly how pro-life are you, really?

How could anyone not be pro-life? God made the wicked also, for the day of doom. Those proponents of abortion have an appointment with the Great Physician. He will reject them, and carry out His own abortion, called the Second Death!!!

Because Yost said it does not make it true.

To the main point. If Christians are to be taken seriously about being about issues and not about party, then they should speak against targeting party like this. If you don't care about being bipartisan and accomplishing anything, then we might as well just be partisan. But Christians have been pretending to be non-partisan for years by handing out voters guides and other similar items at churches. In order to maintain tax except status those churches, or at least the organizations that are printing the guides, must be non-partisan. If they are targeting races where both sides agree with them, then they are by definition acting in a partisan way. I would think that would jeopardize their tax exempt status.

Please explain how Dr. Yoest is incorrect in her statement.

This is a complex issue because it involves two essentially separate issues: abortion and government-run healthcare. Stupak, et al got caught in the tangle. The effort to oust the pro-life Dems was not partisan: it was not a targeting of a party, but of the individuals who voted for Obamacare. Part of what fueled the effort was a sense of betrayal. The fact that pro-life groups have supported and appreciated pro-life Dems is proof that those groups are non-partisan.

Jerry, because it was not an abortion expansion. The Hyde Admenment was not repealed. It is still illegal to spend federal funds directly on abortion. And because Obama signed an Executive Order that strenghtened the abortion protections that were in the Hyde amendment already. So it is not a huge expansion of abortion funding. It was actually strengthening of the current abortion funding restrictions.