One point that didn’t get emphasized as much as I would have preferred in the Time.com piece on abortion and health reform: It’s far from clear that most of the pro-life Democrats who voted for the Stupak amendment last fall will be satisfied with the less stringent language in the Senate version. I still don’t see any way that Stupak rallies three dozen Democrats to stand with him in opposing health reform because they decide the Nelson language is insufficiently strong. But it would also be a mistake for Democratic leaders to assume that Stupak’s is the only vote they will lose over abortion.
The situation would be different if the USCCB hadn’t come out against the Senate’s abortion restrictions and declared that the Stupak standard is the only acceptable pro-life approach. But they have, and those pro-life Democrats who voted for Stupak know that they can count on pressure from the bishops to oppose health reform if it includes the relatively less restrictive Nelson language. Given the small margins Democratic leaders are already working with, that’s no small problem for Obama and Pelosi.