An abundance of pro-life cover

AN ABUNDANCE OF PRO-LIFE COVER…. In order for Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) to succeed in helping kill health care reform over abortion, he needs to convince a bloc of his fellow pro-life Democrats that the already-tough restrictions in the Senate bill just aren’t strong enough.

But for those pro-life Dems, mostly Roman Catholics from the Midwest, who want to vote for health care reform, they’ve been offered an abundance of cover. For example, Sister Carol Keehan, the president and CEO of the Catholic Health Organization, supports the Democratic plan. In a newly-published piece, Keehan writes:

CHA has a major concern on life issues. We said there could not be any federal funding for abortions and there had to be strong funding for maternity care, especially for vulnerable women. The bill now being considered allows people buying insurance through an exchange to use federal dollars in the form of tax credits and their own dollars to buy a policy that covers their health care. If they choose a policy with abortion coverage, then they must write a separate personal check for the cost of that coverage.

There is a requirement that the insurance companies be audited annually to assure that the payment for abortion coverage fully covers the administrative and clinical costs, that the payment is held in a separate account from other premiums, and that there are no federal dollars used.

In addition, there is a wonderful provision in the bill that provides $250 million over 10 years to pay for counseling, education, job training and housing for vulnerable women who are pregnant or parenting. Another provision provides a substantial increase in the adoption tax credit and funding for adoption assistance programs.

Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good has also endorsed the Democratic proposal, and told lawmakers on Friday that the Senate restrictions on abortion are sufficient. This week, 25 evangelical and Catholic leaders wrote to lawmakers with the same message.

And, of course, the Senate language has also been written and endorsed by prominent pro-life Democrats like Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).

Given all of this, plus the fact that Bart Stupak doesn’t really have his facts straight anyway, perhaps it’s time for members of his bloc to put some distance between themselves and Stupak’s misguided efforts. Some already have.

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Steve Benen

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.