House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Won’t Say if Health Care Bill Should Fund Abortions

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 30, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Won’t Say if Health Care Bill Should Fund Abortions

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 30
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — As members of her party ask her not to allow the approval of a government-run health care plan that funds abortions, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi won’t say whether she will do so. Pelosi recently appeared on CNN’s State of the Union show and ignored a question about abortion funding.

On the Sunday program, host John King asked Pelosi, “If this bill passes and there’s a public option, should that public option cover abortions?”

With an answer that couldn’t be deciphered, Pelosi responded, “That’s not–that’s not the issue. The issue is people go out there to–we’ll be working on that issue. But that’s not the issue."

King then asked Pelosi about pro-life Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak, of Michigan, who says he has 40 Democrats who will join together to oppose the health care restructuring bill unless it specifically has language that excludes abortion funding and insurance mandates.

King said Stupak wants something like the Hyde amendment, that prohibits abortion funding through Medicaid.

"Well, I don’t know that – that Bart’s language is exactly that," she said.

"But those – we have people who are working together to help promote health insurance for all Americans, that people will be treated the same in a public option as they are in a private option and that this issue should not be an issue, being respectful of Bart Stupak’s concerns and respectful of full reproductive health care for America’s women," Pelosi added.

Stupak and 19 other Democrats sent Pelosi a letter on June 25 saying they “cannot support any health care reform proposal unless it explicitly excludes abortion from the scope of any government-defined or subsidized health insurance plan.”

“Without an explicit exclusion, abortion could be included in a government subsidized health care plan under general health care,”the letter adds. “The health care reform package produced by Congress will be landmark, and with legislation as important as this, abortion must be addressed clearly in the bill text.”

Last week, Stupak told CBS News that he thinks three dozen Democrats will walk and repeatedly vote against the bill or rules for debate on it without the abortion funding limits.

"I think if they do not have [the pro-life amendments] in there and President Obama says we are going to have a bill with nothing in there on abortion, I think it is going to backfire," he said. "I think we bring down the rule and it will be explicitly discussed in the health care plan one way or another."

Stupak said he is confident he will have "a minimum of thirty nine" Democrats who will join him in opposing the bill.

"If there is not direct language and we are denied our amendment we will focus our attention on the rule," Stupak warned.

Stupak said the pro-life and moderate Democrats would "demand" an up or down on the abortion funding limits before allowing the health care bill to move forward.

Stupak also responded to CBS about the comments President Obama made Tuesday night in an interview with Katie Couric about abortion and health care.

Obama said he did not want to "wade into" the issue of whether the health care bill would allow abortion funding and insurance mandates, and appeared to say he didn’t favor allowing that.

Stupak said the abortion funding debate has to happen on the House floor eventually.

"You can’t talk about health care and reproductive rights [without abortion]," Stupak said. "You cannot not talk about it. It is central to all of the things we have been doing."

"The president was elected to make tough decisions, just as I was elected to make tough decisions," Stupak said. "These are tough decisions, you don’t run from them."

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