Stupak: Dems told me they want to fund abortions because more kids mean higher health-care costs; Update: Waxman?

I don’t quite believe it, although that’s partly because I don’t want to believe it. It’s the abortion equivalent of death panels, essentially. It’s so sinister, and so perfectly matches the most ogrish caricatures of the pro-choice left, that it’s almost too bad to check. It’d be like Ron Paul claiming that pro-war Republicans told him to vote for Iraq because they were dying to get their hands on all that oil. They simply can’t be this cold-blooded.

Well, actually … sure they can. But would they cop to it?

Sitting in an airport, on his way home to Michigan, Rep. Bart Stupak, a pro-life Democrat, is chagrined. “They’re ignoring me,” he says, in a phone interview with National Review Online. “That’s their strategy now. The House Democratic leaders think they have the votes to pass the Senate’s health-care bill without us. At this point, there is no doubt that they’ve been able to peel off one or two of my twelve. And even if they don’t have the votes, it’s been made clear to us that they won’t insert our language on the abortion issue.”…

What are Democratic leaders saying? “If you pass the Stupak amendment, more children will be born, and therefore it will cost us millions more. That’s one of the arguments I’ve been hearing,” Stupak says. “Money is their hang-up. Is this how we now value life in America? If money is the issue — come on, we can find room in the budget. This is life we’re talking about.”

If Obamacare passes, Stupak says, it could signal the end of any meaningful role for pro-life Democrats within their own party. “It would be very, very hard for someone who is a right-to-life Democrat to run for office,” he says. “I won’t leave the party. I’m more comfortable here and still believe in a role within it for the right-to-life cause, but this bill will make being a pro-life Democrat much more difficult. They don’t even want to debate this issue. We’ll probably have to wait until the Republicans take back the majority to fix this.”

Let’s think about this. Imagine you’re a pro-choice Democrat. You know Stupak is passionately opposed to funding abortion. You know he’s willing to chat with any conservative media outlet that’ll have him. You also know that Pelosi’s coalition is extremely fragile. Knowing all that, why would you hand him a political grenade this explosive? You’re not going to flip him; you know he’s going to run to NRO or Fox News to tell them what you said; and you know that it’s going to electrify opposition to the bill. Now imagine that you’re Stupak. You’ve been cut out of negotiations. Your bloc is fracturing. You need something to put it back together. Tossing this out there will have every anti-abortion advocacy group in America pounding on the doors of pro-life Dems on Monday to make sure they vote the right way. I don’t want to call the guy a liar — he’s been admirably constant under incredible pressure — but given the scenario I’ve presented, which is more likely to be true? That some sub-moronic pro-choicer really said this to him or that he’s claiming they did to resuscitate opposition to Reid’s bill? Can he give us the name, at least, of one of the Democrats who said it? (Prime suspect!)

For what it’s worth, Open Left claims there are now at least four members of the Stupak bloc who are suddenly undecided on the bill. Ace says he heard a report on Fox News earlier that Pelosi was … four votes short. Gulp.

Update: Another possible reason for skepticism: Universal health care may mean fewer abortions.

Update: Via Philip Klein, a snippet from a radio interview Stupak gave this morning. He says Waxman told him “we want to pay for abortions,” but he doesn’t give a reason. As far as I know, though, Waxman and Hoyer are the two Democrats in the leadership he’s been dealing with the most, so if someone really did say this, it’s likely one of them. And Waxman’s considerably further left than Hoyer is.