November 16, 2009
By Ed Stoddard
President Barack Obama's bid to overhaul America's healthcare system has exposed a split within his Democratic Party over abortion that threatens to undercut the party's gains in recent elections.
Democrats have traditionally supported a women's right to terminate a pregnancy, with the liberal wing of the party fighting doggedly for decades against repeated Republican efforts to limit the procedure.
But a rising chorus of moderates — some of them elected in traditionally Republican districts during the Democratic sweeps of Congress in 2006 and 2008 — are openly challenging the party's stand on the issue. . .
Although the U.S. Catholic Church supports Obama's healthcare drive, it is dead set against abortion. Lobbying by Catholic bishops was seen as crucial to the inclusion of the anti-abortion amendment attached to the House healthcare bill.
"The Catholic bishops really want some kind of healthcare reform and so they cannot simply be dismissed as people trying to make trouble for it," said Matthew Wilson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
But the irony is that their moves may scuttle passage.
"Right now it (abortion) is the biggest immediate obstacle to getting a bill passed," Wilson said.
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