House Won’t Vote on Pro-Abortion Health Care Bill by Friday, Vote Expected Soon
by Steven Ertelt
July 28, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The House of Representatives will not hold a vote this week on a bill for a government-run health care system that pro-life groups oppose because it would include abortion funding and mandates. That comes despite an ironclad pledge by pro-abortion House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that such a vote would happen.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said yesterday that there will not be a vote before Friday, when lawmakers are slated to leave town for their August recess.
"That clearly will not be possible at this point in time," Hoyer said.
However, Hoyer left open the possibility that a vote could occur over the weekend or early next week — not fully removing the threat that the pro-life community faces.
The House health care legislation is still tied up in the House Energy and Commerce Committee where pro-abortion committee chair, Rep. Henry Waxman, faces strong opposition from pro-life Democrats because the bill could be used to promote taxpayer funding of abortion and insurance coverage mandates.
That, Waxman says, means the next battle will take place in the committee as amendments come up that would limit the bill’s abortion reach.
"This is the week for markup," Waxman told reporters yesterday. "If you’re going to do the bill out of committee, this is the week."
Waxman suggested that debate and votes on amendments could come as early as today.
Without pro-life amendments making the bill abortion neutral, Rep. Bart Stupak, a pro-life Democrat, has made it clear that he and 39 colleagues are ready to stop the bill in committee or on the House floor.
Frustrated that Stupak and his colleagues are blocking the bill and tired that negotiations are taking so long, Waxman said Friday he may bypass a committee vote and take it to the full House floor. There, two other pro-abortion health care restructuring bills are awaiting a debate and vote.
"We’re going to have to look at perhaps bypassing the (Energy and Commerce) committee because we’ve got to get moving on this legislation," said Waxman. "I hope we don’t come to that conclusion."
Waxman said he is running out of patience with the pro-life Democrats.
"We’re not going to let them empower the Republicans to control the committee," he said. "This this can’t be an interminable discussion."
That conclusion would deny pro-life advocates any chance of a vote on several amendments to make sure the bill does not fund abortions with taxpayer dollars, make insurance companies cover abortions, overturn state laws limiting abortions or violate the conscience rights of medical professions who don’t want to engage in abortions.
Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for National Right to Life, talked with LifeNews.com recently talked with LifeNews.com about the latest developments in the debate.
He said the pro-life movement has to work overtime to oppose the health care bill, which he has called the biggest government expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade.
"Every pro-life citizen should forcefully communicate to his or her representative in the U.S. House that the lawmaker must vote to block the movement of the Obama health bill, until and unless it is amended to explicitly exclude abortion from all coverage and access mandates, and also to prohibit federal subsidies to any plan that covers abortions," Johnson said.
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