March 24, 2010
Last Sunday night, pro-life Democrats sold the birthright of millions of unborn children for a mess of pottage.
Up until that fateful day, it wasn't clear whether Rep. Bart Stupak and other pro-life Democrats would support the health care bill. Then, Stupak made a stunning announcement. In exchange for Stupak's support, the President would sign an executive order prohibiting the spending of federal funds for abortions.
I know Bart Stupak and have had great respect for him. And I understand the enormous—even vicious—political pressure the administration and House leadership put on him and his colleagues. But in the end, he and other pro-life Democrats have sold out the pro-life cause, and with it, the lives of the unborn.
Now, some abortion-rights advocates excoriated the President. The National Organization of Women said that it was "incensed" by the executive order. But as Bill McGurn wrote in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, Planned Parenthood seems quite pleased. Why? Because as McGurn writes, "an Executive Order cannot change the law."
The Catholic Bishops know this. Which is why even before the executive order was announced, they made it clear that it would "not begin to address the problem" of protecting human life.
That's because the courts have made it clear that an executive order will have no effect. There are four "decades of federal appellate rulings that apply the principles of Roe v. Wade to federal health legislation." As the Bishops and their lawyers read the case law, funding for abortions is required in federal health care programs unless "Congress clearly forbids such funding." Absent a clear prohibition, executive orders and regulations can—and will be—overridden by the courts. The precedents are clear.
And while Rep. Stupak lamely says that the President "does not plan on rescinding" the order, other people don't share his confidence. And as Rep. Paul Ryan said, the executive order "is not the rule of law...[but] the rule of man. One man can sign an executive order and one man can repeal that again."
Let me be plain. The executive order does nothing to protect the unborn. Even if the President intends to stand by his agreement, this does not bind his successors, the courts, or, for that, matter, the pro-abortion activists in his own party.
We stand on the precipice. Will an essentially pro-life American public stand for a health care bill that paves the way for federally funded abortions? I don't know. I fear, however, that the passage of this bill has the potential for tearing America apart.
Because Christians by the thousands, maybe millions, could be forced to choose between their faith, their consciences, and the law of the land. I've already had people call me to ask if they should pay their federal taxes, now that it is inevitable that their dollars will fund abortions. And heaven help the doctor or nurse or pharmacist, who refuses to take innocent life. He or she will lose their profession.
Maybe this is why God led us, some months ago, to write the Manhattan Declaration, which nearly half a million Christians have signed. He foresaw that this would be a sellout. He foresaw the crisis we will face.
We must see this deal for what it was—a charade. And now we must take our stand on the side of life and conscience, no matter the consequences. Will you stand with us?
Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.