Bart Stupak: No William Wallace

Abortion opponents were hoping that Bart Stupak's final stand on abortion would look something like this (video care of Catholic Vote):

In the end, though, signs are pointing toward more of a retreat than a battle. Yesterday, Rep. Dale Kildee, Democrat of Michigan and a strong opponent of abortion, came out in support of health-care reform with the Nelson language (he was among the 12 Democrats on House Minority Whip Eric Cantor's list of Democrats who would oppose health-care reform because of the abortion language). After reading the Senate bill's abortion language more than a dozen times and consulting with his priest, Kildee said in a statement, "I am convinced that the Senate language maintains the Hyde amendment, which states that no federal money can be used for abortion."

The nuns have come out in support of the health-care bill, as has the Catholic Health Association. And Stupak, who was telling Fox News last week that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would not have the votes, is now talking about a hypothetical situation in which she does indeed have the votes. From The Hill today:

"I can't block it. Bart Stupak and his 'dirty dozen,' however you want to call it, we can't block it. There's 39 other people who didn't vote for it," said Stupak.

Stupak claims while Democratic leaders have peeled off a few of his group, he always had more than 12 and he stresses he still has 12 now.

The ideal outcome, Stupak said, might be for the House Democratic leadership to get the votes they need without him and for the bill to pass.

"You know, maybe for me that's the best: I stay true to my principles and beliefs," he said, and "vote no on this bill and then it passes anyways. Maybe for me [it's] the best thing to do."

Abortion, the issue that has threatened health-care reform for just about five months now, seems to be dwindling into the clash of titans that wasn't.