March 24, 2010
Concern over federal funding for abortion, which nearly torpedoed historic U.S. healthcare reforms signed by President Barack Obama on Tuesday, now looms as a potent issue for congressional elections in November.
Obama clinched the votes he needed for the reforms in the House of Representatives by winning over a handful of Democratic abortion rights opponents with a promise of an executive order affirming current restrictions.
Republicans and conservative critics have called foul and insist the bill provides loopholes for federal abortion funding. Electoral battle lines are already being drawn over what is one of the most divisive social issues in America. . .
The issue has also been highly partisan but analysts say the divide is no longer so clear cut and after the healthcare reform debate, in which conservatives like Stupak were prominent, Democrats could gain traction on the issue.
"It enhances their prospects in November because it shows there is a substantial pro-life grouping in the Democratic Party," said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
"The Republicans have to make it an issue because they have to establish that if you are pro-life, you vote Republican. If they let the idea get out there that if you are pro-life you can be either Democrat or Republican, then that is a big loss for them," Jillson said.
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