COVER FOR PRO-LIFE DEMS?…. There’s still a serious risk that abortion can derail House efforts to pass health care reform. But if pro-life Democrats are looking for cover, they shouldn’t have to look too hard.

The issue, of course, is over indirect, circuitous subsidies for abortions. The Senate version includes pretty strict language, written and endorsed by pro-life Democrats like Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). For Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and his bloc, the Senate provision isn’t strong enough, though Stupak’s argument appears to be factually wrong. While it’s unclear exactly how big Stupak’s bloc really is, even a few votes could mean the difference between success and failure.

If some of Stupak’s allies want to vote for the reform bill, and don’t want to look as though they’re abandoning their commitment on abortion rights, perhaps efforts like these will help.

According to the National Catholic Reporter, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, a Washington-based advocacy group, sent a letter to members of Congress on Friday urging support for the Senate-passed health care bill and expressing its view that the bill contains sufficient provisions to prevent the use of federal money to pay for insurance coverage of abortions.

Indeed, there’s a lot of this going around.

Twenty-five evangelical and Catholic leaders wrote members of Congress March 11 urging them not to let a dispute over abortion derail passage of health-care reform.

Some pro-life Democrats have said they will vote against President Obama’s proposed overhaul of health care unless language restricting the use of federal dollars for abortion is strengthened.

The religious readers, however, said they believe the legislation not only maintains long-standing restrictions on federal funding of abortion, but also provides new support for vulnerable pregnant women that could actually reduce the number of abortions.

“As Christians committed to a consistent ethic of life and deeply concerned with the health and well-being of all people, we want to see health-care reform enacted,” the leaders said.

For his part, it seems as if the House Democratic leadership has given up hope on Stupak being reasonable. The Michigan lawmaker told National Review that leaders are now “ignoring” him. Given his reluctance to engage in a constructive discussion, I can’t say I blame the leadership for giving up on Stupak.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.