Executive Order Wins With Stupak, Loses With Anti-Abortion-Rights Groups

Moments ago, Rep. Bart Stupak signed on to support health-care reform after the president issued an executive order, reiterating that the bill would not allow for public funding of abortion. That won over Stupak and many others who oppose abortion, but has done little to sway groups that oppose abortion rights.

National Right to Life, Americans United for Life, the Family Research Council, and the Susan B. Anthony List have all come out against the executive-order strategy. Three of Stupak's anti-abortion-rights colleagues, Dan Lipinski, Jerry Costello, and Gene Taylor, still oppose the bill, according to the National Review Online.

These groups have regularly blasted the Senate's Nelson language as an "accounting gimmick" that would not actually prevent federal funding of abortion. I should note here that numerous fact-checks by both news organizations and nonpartisan watchdogs have been explicit that this is not the case: the Senate bill would not allow for federal abortion funding.

Throughout the health-care-reform debate, both anti-abortion-rights groups and Stupak have been insistent that they would accept nothing less than the House language. And, today, they accepted something less than the House language: a law that directs insurance companies to follow a law that they don't like. So it's difficult to imagine anti-abortion-rights groups reacting any differently.

What's particularly interesting here, though, is that what anti-abortion-rights groups call a loss is not exactly a win for supporters of abortion rights. The bill's requirement to strictly segregate funds provides a disincentive for insurers to cover abortion: namely, it's going to be a whole lot of work to make sure that they're doing it correctly. If they find abortion coverage too onerous to provide, they may well give it up altogether.