Time's Sullivan to Nancy Pelosi: Stop Spooking the Pro-Life House Dems!

Nancy Pelosi is her own worst enemy and Time's Amy Sullivan hopes to get that message across in her March 4 Swampland blog post, "Is This An Abortion Whip Count?"

Sullivan did some number crunching and found that, due to concerns about a lack of a restriction on abortion spending in the Senate bill, Pelosi may end up being a few votes shy of the threshold to pass the legislation.

Sullivan's advice to the Speaker? She just needs to moderate her testy tone to dupe enough pro-life Democrats to voting for a bill that lacks the Stupak amendment which was passed in the House version of the bill (emphasis mine):

Pelosi has got to do a better job of hiding her exasperation with her pro-life colleagues. When asked about Stupak's concerns, she has on three separate occasions in the past week flatly dismissed them as unfounded. "There is no federal funding of abortion," says Pelosi. By that she means two things: 1) the Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of federal funds, with some exceptions, to pay for abortions; and 2) she does not interpret the Senate's version of health reform as allowing federal funding of abortion.

As it happens, a lot of people--including a number of pro-life politicians and religious leaders--share Pelosi's interpretation. But some don't, and it's not as if they're suddenly going to smack themselves in the forehead and say, "By golly, she's right! I hadn't looked closely enough at the bill, but now that the Speaker points that out, I see that it doesn't fund abortions at all!" It wouldn't kill her--and it just might help negotiations with some wavering Democrats--if Pelosi would try saying something more like: "I understand that's how some of my colleagues interpret the language of the Senate bill. I see it differently, but I do respect their concerns."

That sort of response might sound as if it simply writes off those pro-life Democratic votes. To the contrary, it would actually open a door that Pelosi has currently slammed shut.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.