Shadegg’s “Present” vote on Stupak

Statement by Congressman John Shadegg regarding the vote on the Stupak Amendment to the Pelosi Health Care Bill

Washington, Nov 8 –

Last night I was the only Republican member to vote “present” on the Stupak Amendment. I did so because I am passionately pro-life, but I am also passionately pro-freedom.

In the end, the Stupak amendment gave political cover to Democrats who voted for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker. She is anti-freedom and rabidly pro-abortion. She is no friend of Life and outsmarted opponents of socialized medicine.

Before the vote, she promised pro-abortion Democrats she would strip the Stupak language. Obama will help her.

She will strip the Stupak amendment in Conference and pass the bill with the votes of Democrats who claim to be pro-life.

Let me explain:

Republicans who, at the request of Right to Life, in good faith, voted “yes” on Stupak last night defined a “yes” vote as the pro-life vote.

But, it wasn’t. A “yes” vote increased the votes for the bill and enabled Pelosi to pass it. That means more abortions.

Instead, Republicans could have been principled and neither voted for the Stupak amendment nor against it. We didn’t have to help Nancy Pelosi.

Republicans could have said “present” means “present”. It doesn’t mean “yes” and it doesn’t mean “no.” Members of Congress have three choices when they go to vote. A vote of “present” is a protest vote.

We could have refused to let Nancy Pelosi force us to choose between “Life” and “Freedom.” That’s a false choice, and we didn’t have to fall for it.

If Republicans had voted “present” as a group, since we are the party of Life, we would have defined the “present” vote as the pro-life vote. Doing so would have denied the purported pro-life Democrats cover.

Given the extremely narrow margin of victory for the bill, its highly likely that without the Stupak language, it would have been defeated.

It passed by five votes and there are far more than five Democrats who almost certainly wouldn’t have voted for it with government funded abortions in it!

It is extremely unlikely that Driehaus or Hill or Wilson or Mollohan or Ellsworth or Donnelly or perhaps numerous others would have voted for the bill. The bill would have been dead, and along with it, the threat of publicly funded abortions! We could have defeated Nancy Pelosi!

The truth is you can’t be truly pro-life and pro-Pelosi.

Even if I am wrong and the bill hadn’t failed, it is absolutely clear the vote on passage would have been closer. It passed by only five votes. One of those votes was Republican: Cao. He stated publicly that he voted “yes” only because Stupak passed. Without his vote the margin would have been only three votes!

Now, the Democrats who voted for Stupak will say the “Right to Life” vote was on Stupak and they voted pro-life.

Republicans set the standard. Instead of making “present” the pro-life vote, we made “yes” the pro-life vote.

Think about that. When the Stupak language is stripped in Conference (and Nancy Pelosi will strip it), the supposedly pro-life Democrats will be pressured by Pelosi and Obama to vote “yes” on the Conference report more intensely than ever. When Pelosi and Obama are in their final press to enact the bill into law they will tell these purportedly “pro-life” Democrats they’re safe from attack by Right to Life because they voted for the Stupak amendment.

For real pro-lifers to stop the Conference Report after the Stupak language has been stripped will be nearly impossible. I pray we can, but fear last night was our best chance.

At a minimum, Republicans should have met and discussed their strategy. They didn’t! Instead, they helped Nancy Pelosi pass her bill without so much as a conversation. They gave the Democrats, who voted for Pelosi as Speaker but claim to be pro-life, political cover.

Nancy Pelosi caught Republicans off guard. They had believed, wrongly, that she would never allow a vote on Stupak. When she did, we didn’t have to fall into the trap. The pro-freedom anti-socialism vote—and the pro-life vote—was to vote against Nancy Pelosi and her pro- abortion strategy!

John Shadegg


Congressman Shadegg made a principled stand by voting present on the Stupak Amendment prohibiting abortion funding in House-approved health care bill. National pro-life groups say they will score a present vote as a no vote. Hold your fire. Congressman Shadegg’s a 100% pro-life vote. He firmly believes the Stupak amendment will be stripped in conference committee.  I respect both positions. I continue to be proud and pleased to call John Shadegg my congressman.

Cathi Herrod
Center for Arizona Policy



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