The decision of the House leadership to allow a vote on Rep. Bart Stupak’s robust pro-life amendment is, of course, bad news for pro-choicers, and a big win for the Catholic bishops, who played hardball and are now on top. But it confronts House Republicans with an interesting dilemma. They can vote en masse for the amendment, get it in the bill they hate, and thereby improve the bill’s chances of passage by depriving themselves of a critical talking point and bringing on board the USCCB and some staunch pro-life Blue Dogs.
Under the circumstances, you wonder whether the GOP leadership will contrive some way of preventing passage–such as by arranging for some members not to vote, or sending signals that such pro-choice members as there may be should vote their consciences. Perhaps it’s no accident that, as Gilgoff notes, the Family Research Council has not used abortion as the basis for its opposition to health care reform. Maybe they know something.