The author of an amendment to the health-care bill that bans the use of federal funds for elective abortion says that the White House would only imperil the bill’s passage, if it succeeds in stripping the amendment.
“They’re not going to take it out. If they do, health care will not move forward,” Michigan Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak told Fox News this week. “We won fair and square.”
White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod had told CNN on Sunday that President Obama was working with Congress to “adjust” the bill’s abortion language. Both Obama and Axelrod have indicated agreement with the claim by leading pro-abortion lobbyists that the Stupak language amounts to an encroachment on women’s abortion insurance coverage.
Stupak blasted Axelrod, saying the White House advisor “doesn’t really know what he’s talking about” and that if the will of the majority were not respected, Pelosi stood to lose between ten to fifteen more votes when the bill comes before the House for final passage.
“You’re not going to summarily start dismissing amendments which the majority of the House of Representatives wanted because some person, David Axelrod or someone, doesn’t like it,” continued the Michigan Democrat.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had unexpectedly allowed a floor vote on the Stupak amendment in a strategic move earlier this month, subsequently winning the support of several moderate and pro-life Democrat votes. Rep. Stupak and his cadre of pro-life Democrats were essential to the 220-215 vote that passed the bill, only after the Pitts-Stupak amendment was approved 240-194.
The amendment restores long-standing federal policy against the use of government-appropriated funds for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is deemed at stake, mirroring the Hyde amendment.
Specifically, Pitts-Stupak prohibits the public insurance option from paying for abortions except in the above-mentioned cases, and this ban applies also to private insurance companies, which participate in the health insurance exchange and receive federal dollars.
Capitol Hill lawmakers disagree on how the Stupak amendment or other “compromise” attempts at pro-life language could impact the future of the bill, both in the Senate and when the House considers a final version.
Pro-abortion Rep. Dianna DeGette (D-Colo.), who leads a group of Democrats dedicated to killing a pro-life health bill, disagreed that Stupak would have enough votes to take down the measure if a later version lacked his amendment.
“I think he won’t have the votes when people explain to those members what exactly the Stupak amendment does,” DeGette said on a Tuesday appearance on ABC News’s “Top Line” webcast.
Rep. DeGette and Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-N.Y.), co-chairwomen of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, on Monday released a letter signed by over 40 Representatives, asserting they would vote against the final version of health-care reform if Pitts-Stupak were retained.
In the Senate, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) suggested in a Monday night appearance on MSNBC that there would not be enough pro-life votes in the Senate to force the inclusion of similar strong pro-life language in that chamber’s bill.
However the loss of three votes in the House – let alone ten – would be the kiss of death for the final version of health-care reform that must be approved by both chambers of Congress – making it appear for the moment that Pelosi’s short-term strategic decision to permit a vote on the Pitts-Stupak amendment in the first place may have ultimately secured the bill’s final demise.