House OKs Vote on Stupak Amendment to Cut Abortion Funding From Health Care
by Steven Ertelt
November 6, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — In a surprise move after hours of tumultuous negotiations, the House Rules Committee, very early Saturday morning, approved rules for debate on the pro-abortion health care bill. Although it appeared Speaker Nancy Pelosi would deny one, it allows a vote on an amendment to remove abortion funding.
Pelosi’s hand appeared to have been forced when pro-abortion House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced earlier in the day that she did not have enough votes to pass the bill because of objections from pro-life Democrats.
The committee okayed a Rule that allows the House to vote on the Stupak amendment, offered by pro-life Rep. Bart Stupak, a Michigan Democrat, to the health care reform legislation.
Stupak had dozens of Democrats who threatened to vote against the Rule and the bill if he did not get a vote on his amendment. If the amendment is defeated, Stupak and pro-life Democrats will likely still oppose the bill because of the abortion funding.
The bill, HR 3962, currently funds abortions in two ways — by allowing the public option (or government-run health care program) to pay for abortions and by allowing the affordability credits the government would give to consumers to be used to pay for health care plans that fund abortions.
The Stupak amendment would apply the fundamental principles of the Hyde amendment, which has long prohibited abortion funding under the Medicaid and HHS programs, to the health care reform bill and essentially prohibit all government funding of abortion under it.
Douglas Johnson, the legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, told LifeNews.com after the committee vote on the Rule that the vote on the Stupak could be the most important abortion-related vote cast in Congress since Roe.
"This will be one of the most important roll call votes that U.S. House members ever casts on a pro-life issue," he said. "Any lawmaker who votes against the Stupak-Pitts Amendment is, in effect, voting in favor of establishing a federal government program that will directly fund abortion on demand, with federal funds."
Johnson urged all pro-life advocates to call both the Washington and in-state offices of their representatives in the U.S. House to urge support for the Stupak-Pitts Amendment.
The vote on the Stupak amendment could decide the fate of the health care reform bill — because das many as 40 pro-life Democrats could vote against the bill if the Stupak amendment is not adopted and the abortion funding remains.
The House Rules Committee vote came after a long night of negotiation and discussions that, at one point, seemed as if they had gone out of control and would have resulted in the allowance of a limited amendment to only remove abortion funding out of the public option but not the affordability credits.
Stupak told Fox News late in the day that he had "not received any assurances by the Speaker that (the amendment) would be made in order."
"I have not had a deal with the Speaker," he said before the committee allowed a vote on his amendment. "If our amendment is made in order, I believe it will pass. " We’ve had so many agreements, I don’t believe anything unless it’s on paper."
Abortion advocates in the House were livid that Stupak’s amendment would get a vote.
"There will be no abortion, not just with public funds, but with private funds under the public option, and that’s not acceptable," Rep. Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat, claimed.
And Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, fired off a press release blasting the deal top Democrats made with Stupak and his pro-life Democratic coalition.
She claimed the amendment would force private insurance companies to drop abortion coverage even though "the majority of private health insurance plans currently offer abortion coverage" — a statistic that has been challenged as untrue.
She said the Stupak amendment "upends the carefully crafted compromise in the House bill and unambiguously restricts women’s access to care."
The allowance of a vote on the Stupak amendment came after the nation’s Catholic bishops delivered a final letter to members of Congress on Friday asking for a vote.
Doerflinger, associate director of the bishops conference’s pro-life office, told the Washington Post that the bishops would drop their objections to the health care bill if the Stupak amendment is added and all abortion funding is removed.
"We become enthusiastic advocates for moving forward with health care reform," he said, if that happens.
The Post described the chaotic scene as advocates on both sides of the abortion divide sought to allow or prevent a vote on the Stupak amendment.
"Negotiations between the two camps consumed much of the day Friday, as representatives from the warring factions shuttled into and out of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office just off the Capitol Rotunda. A deal was finally struck shortly before 9:30 p.m., sending Stupak to the House Rules Committee to request official permission to offer his amendment — permission that was finally granted shortly after 1 a.m. Saturday," it indicated.
"After the deal was struck, annoyed pro-choice leaders filed out of Pelosi’s office to confer with their supporters," it concluded.
ACTION: Contact your members of the House of Representatives immediately at https://www.House.gov and urge a YES vote on the Stupak amendment to stop abortion funding in the health care bill. Also, urge your members to vote NO on the health care bill HR 3962 if the Stupak amendment is defeated.
Related web sites:
National Right to Life – https://www.NRLC.org
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