More cover for pro-life Dems

MORE COVER FOR PRO-LIFE DEMS…. Following up on an item from the weekend, there are a lot of eyes focused on pro-life Democrats right now, some of whom may balk at health care reform. The question, for them, is whether already-tough restrictions on abortion funding in the Senate bill are strong enough.

We know how Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) answers that question. We also know that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Right to Life Committee agree with Stupak.

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 political cover. Take this announcement from earlier today, for example.

[I]n a rare public disagreement that will reverberate among the nation’s 70 million Catholics, leaders of religious orders representing 59,000 nuns sent lawmakers a letter urging lawmakers to pass the Senate health care bill. Expected to come before the House by this weekend, the measure contains abortion funding restrictions that the bishops say don’t go far enough.

“Despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions,” said the letter signed by 60 leaders of women’s religious orders. “It will uphold longstanding conscience protections and it will make historic new investments … in support of pregnant women. This is the real pro-life stance, and we as Catholics are all for it.”

“This is politics; this isn’t a question of faith and morals,” said Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a national Catholic social activism lobby. “We are the ones who work every day with people who are suffering because they don’t have health care. We cannot turn our backs on them, so for us, health care reform is a faith-based response to human need.”

There’s been quite a bit of movement on this over the last week or so. Over the weekend, the president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association also endorsed the Democratic reform plan, which followed support from the Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. Late last week, 25 evangelical and Catholic leaders also wrote to lawmakers urging passage of the reform bill.

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.).

If members of Stupak’s bloc want to help make reform reality, and they’re looking for some political cover, they should have what they need to vote “yes.”