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EDITORIAL: Stupak’s final retreat

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After selling out, Rep. Bart Stupak is walking out. The Michigan Democrat who tried to pass himself off as pro-life announced Friday that he no longer seeks re-election. It's understandable that Mr. Stupak is unwilling to face voters in his working-class Upper Peninsula district after casting a decisive vote in favor of a nationalized health care plan that would allow, with the stroke of the president's pen, millions of abortions at public expense.

Many other Democrats have called it quits. Mr. Stupak is the 12th of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's disciples to announce retirement. In the upper chamber, Sens. Ted Kaufman of Delaware, Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota, Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut and Evan Bayh of Indiana have decided to deny voters the opportunity to cast judgment in November.

This is hardly surprising, considering a majority of independent voters opposed the health care bill in a recent Gallup survey, suggesting the Democrats are losing a key voting bloc. What's unusual about Mr. Stupak's move is that after 18 years in Congress, he would consider moving back to a district where the unemployment rate is a full third higher than the national average. According to Mr. Stupak's financial disclosures, the retiring congressman faces mortgage liabilities that far exceed his cash holdings, and he can only count upon an $18,118 disability pension from the state of Michigan.

President Obama, however, has proved generous to other toadies in need. Rep. Jim Matheson, Utah Democrat, considered endorsing the health care bill, and the president nominated Mr. Matheson's brother Scott for a lifetime job on the federal bench. Rep. Joe Sestak, Pennsylvania Democrat, admitted that the White House offered him a "high-ranking" federal job - widely believed to be the post of Navy secretary - in return for his dropping out of a contested Senate primary race. It would be unfair to speculate whether Mr. Stupak expects a helping hand from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

It's more relevant to reflect on the career of a man marked by a singular failure to stand on principle when it counted most. This is an important lesson to those who care about the pro-life cause. The support of purportedly pro-life Democrats is meaningless because each and every one of them casts the most anti-life vote possible at the beginning of each Congress: for Mrs. Pelosi as speaker in the House or for Harry Reid as majority leader in the Senate. Those votes betray a noble cause.

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