The focal point of the split: Representative Bart Stupak, the conservative, pro-life Democrat who threatened to trip up the health care reform bill during last weekend's wild sprint to the finish. He'd been a pariah within his party for doing so -- until he traded his yes vote for a promise from President Obama that no federal dollars would go to fund abortion.
But his reversal of fortune among Dems, who gave him a hero's greeting on the House floor, coincides with anger among Republicans who'd seen him as a staunch ally willing to cross party lines to protect the unborn. They now call Stupak a a turncoat , revealing a sharp and widening fissure along party lines.
The long-term ramifications of the split are unclear, since opponents of a woman's right to choose seem bent on undoing Roe vs. Wade -- something that's unlikely to happen in the near future. And legal scholars disagree on what exactly Obama's deal with Stupak means in the real world. But at the very least the strong emotions on both sides will further harden the red-blue split in Congress, and could come up as an issue in this fall's mid-term elections.