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Political Advocacy Tracker is a roundup of what Christian activist organizations have been talking about. It usually runs on Fridays.

Conservative and pro-life groups had been hailing Rep. Bart Stupak as a hero for his stance on abortion and the healthcare reform bill. But when Stupak and other pro-life Democrats agreed to back the bill in exchange for an executive order stating that no federal funds could be used for abortion, the Michigan Congressman instantly became persona non grata.

In a released statement, Stupak said he was "proud to be able to vote for this historic legislation."

"I have said from the start I would not vote for health care reform without adequate protections in place to make sure the current law of no federal funding for abortion is maintained," Stupak said. "The president's Executive Order upholds the principle that federal funds should not be used to subsidize abortion coverage."

Most pro-life groups insisted that the executive order did not change the effect of what they see as the bill's abortion provisions. The National Right to Life Committee said the executive order was "issued for political effect." Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life Action, called the executive order a "charade."

For most groups, the problem with the executive order was that it was a directive from the president (which is legally binding on the federal government) but not part of the legislation itself.

"Executive orders don't have the force of law, don't direct the private sector, and can be rescinded by future administrations. The order instead serves as an admission that the healthcare bill is not abortion neutral," said Ashley Horne of Focus on the Family Action.

The most shocking display of the outrage ...

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Stupak: From Prolife Groups' Hero to Villain 'In a Nanosecond'
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March 2010

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