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Dec. 6, 2002
What Happened To the Bankruptcy Bill 
How Republican Leaders Repaid Their Pro-Life Constituents  
They think we’ll forget about it. After all, pro-lifers are so much nicer than the liberals. And most of them are Christians who believe in turning the other cheek. But, guess what? We may be inclined to turn our own cheeks, but we don’t have a right to acquiesce in betrayal of those who act selflessly in heroic efforts to save the lives of tiny unborn babies!

The House Republican leadership’s handling of the Bankruptcy Reform Act, which contained a malicious anti-pro-life amendment, reminds us that, even though the pro-life vote gave Republicans the margin of victory in the 2002 election, when faced with a division of loyalties some will abandon the pro-life cause in favor of business or other interests.

Here is what happened.

Credit card, banking, and business interests have, for the past five years, promoted passage of a bill that would reform U.S. bankruptcy laws to make it more difficult for people to file for bankruptcy protection and walk away from all their debts. New York Senator Chuck Schumer, a pro-abortion Democrat, added an amendment to the bill that would single out peaceful pro-life protesters making it virtually impossible for them to avoid punitive legal judgments and subjecting them to possible financial ruin. Pro-life Republican House Members led by Rep. Joe Pitts (PA) and joined by Reps. Chris Smith (NJ), Mike Pence (IN), Mark Souder (IN), Todd Akin (MO), and John Shadegg (AZ) among others, strenuously objected to the bill as long as the anti-pro-life amendment remained in it. Because Election Day was closing in, and because the Republican House leadership wanted to avoid alienating pro-life voters, consideration of the bill was put on the back burner. Meanwhile, Rep. Henry Hyde attempted to negotiate a compromise with Schumer that proved to be unacceptable to other pro-life Members.

Election day arrived and lo and behold, the pro-life vote made the difference in many congressional races around the country. Republicans actually gained seats in the House and Senate instead of losing as had been predicted ad nauseam by media prognosticators. Republicans regained control of the U.S. Senate. Norm Coleman in Minnesota, Jim Talent in Missouri, and Wayne Allard in Colorado were elected principally because of the pro-life vote.

Ten days later, House Republican leaders brought the bankruptcy bill with the Schumer amendment intact, to the floor. “Instead of rewarding pro-life Americans for giving their votes overwhelmingly to Republican candidates in the 2002 election, the GOP leadership is jabbing a thumb in their eye barely a week after the election at the behest of the well-heeled business wing of the Party,” said Ken Connor, president of Family Research Council. “The Schumer Amendment effectively says, ‘If you are a pro-life protester and you wind up with a money judgment against you for engaging in what we regard as constitutionally protected speech and activity, you are not going to be able to discharge that debt in bankruptcy,” Mr. Connor continued. “The effect of that is to create a disfavored class for purposes of punishing politically incorrect speech, because the only group that is being singled out for this kind of treatment is pro-life protesters.”

Despite the tireless efforts of Rep. Pitts and his staff to rid the bill of the Schumer Amendment, Pitts finally realized that, as he described it, pro-lifers were about to “get rolled” by the leadership. The first vote was on the rule under which the bill was to be considered. It was a beautiful thing when Congressman Chris Smith expressed the will of the opposition by saying, “I love my Party, but I don’t think I should have to sacrifice my core convictions in order to be in good standing.” Suddenly, with the 40 most dedicated pro-life Republicans voting “NAY,” the rule was defeated and with it, the bill.

We are proud of the courage and tenacity shown by the pro-life Members who bucked their leadership over a matter of not only pro-life principle, but of justice as well. Our thanks and good wishes go out to them as they face other pro-life battles in the 108th Congress.

Forget about it? Not a chance.

Republican National
Coalition for Life

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Republican National Coalition for Life    Box 618    Alton    Illinois 62002
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