WASHINGTON — Capping a tense Sunday in which the House of Representatives cleared historic health care legislation, one of the staunchest anti-abortion Democrats was dubbed a “baby killer” by a representative on the Republican side of the chamber.
Republicans, who unanimously voted to strike the bill down, reintroduced the House’s original Stupak-Pitts amendment in a “motion to recommit,” after the Senate package was approved by a margin of 219 to 212.
“This motion does not promote life,” said Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), its lead author, who voted in favor of the bill’s passage. He described it as nothing more than a disingenuous effort to scuttle the whole effort and strip insurance coverage from tens of millions of Americans.
In the span of less than a minute, he was called a “baby killer” twice by a Congress member on the floor.
A mixture of “ooohs” filled the room along with a call of “who said that?” as the presiding congressman, Rep. David Obey (D-WI) demanded the chamber be in order.
The representative from Michigan repeated his initial statement, only to be shouted at as a “baby killer” again, but louder this time.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate at all,” Rep. John Campbell (R-CA) told reporters. “It was definitely on the floor, but it wasn’t me.
Obey dismissed the incident as unseemly but not in breach of any rules. “Members have a right to make an idiot of themselves once without being exposed,” he said.
In recent weeks, Stupak has led dramatic negotiations to strengthen the abortion restrictions in the bill, promising to derail the effort if his demands weren’t met. Just hours before the vote, he and his followers announced that a deal had been reached with President Obama in the form of an executive order to win their votes.
The issue of abortion has been highly divisive throughout the health care deliberations and has at various points threatened to sink the whole effort. The present bill forbids federal dollars being used for elective abortion coverage, maintaining the status quo on the issue.
This video is from CNN, broadcast March 21, 2010.