House Cmte Defeats Amendment to Stop Abortion Mandate in Health Care Plan

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 31, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

House Cmte Defeats Amendment to Stop Abortion Mandate in Health Care Plan

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 31
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — The House committee that is considering the main House health care restructuring plan defeated a pro-life amendment Thursday night that would stop any mandate for abortion coverage. The vote saw Tennessee Rep. Bart Gordon change his vote, allowing for its defeat.

The panel’s vote and re-vote came along with a vote for a phony measure that abortion advocates said would stop abortion funding in the health care bill, but would actually do otherwise.

Reps. Joe Pitts, a Pennsylvania republican, and Bart Stupak, a Michigan Democrat, combined for a bipartisan amendment to prevent mandated abortion coverage in the essential benefits package.

The amendment said abortions could not be a required basic benefit of any government or private plan.

The House Energy and Commerce committee initially approved the amendment on a 31-27 vote.

However, Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat who is the committee chairman, switched his vote from nay to yea at the last minute, so he could call for a re-vote later in the night.

A few hours later, when Waxman brought up the amendment for reconsideration, it failed by a vote of 30-29 with Waxman switching sides along with Gordon, who has a pro-abortion voting record on other issues. Also, a Democrat who hadn’t voted the first time, Rep. Zack Space of Ohio, voted against the amendment under reconsideration.

Rep. Joe Barton, a pro-life Texas Republican who is a member of the committee, talked about the vote switch and the defeat of the pro-life Pitts-Stupak amendment.

"The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s majority Democrats managed to have it all ways on the abortion issue Thursday night, at first opting to make abortions available under the government’s ‘public-option’ health plan, then deciding to disallow them as a basic benefit, and finally reversing that decision just before midnight,’ he said.

Barton said the Pitts-Stupak amendment was "designed to prohibit the kinds of abortion services that traditionally have been excluded from government sponsorship."

The congressman also commented on the Capps amendment, that pro-life groups are condemning.

He said her proposal "created a murky accounting mechanism that effectively permitted the government’s ‘public option’ insurance plan to contain coverage for elective abortions."

"Capps argued that it continued traditional bans on federal funding of abortion services, but [Stupak] refuted that stand, saying the proposal abrogated long-standing ban," he said.

Making abortion services not only available, but “cheaper and more affordable? That’s not a principle I can endorse,” Stupak said of the Capps amendment.

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