Top Democrat Working With White House For Abortion Funding in Health Care

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 13, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Top Democrat Working With White House For Abortion Funding in Health Care

by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 13
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — To the American people, there may seem to be a lull in the health care debate as members of Congress return from their Christmas break and try to piece together a final bill from the House and Senate versions. But one top pro-abortion activist in the House is working furiously to fund abortions.

Rep. Diana DeGette, the Colorado Democrat who leads the caucus of pro-abortion lawmakers, says she has been talking with the White House and others about how to resolve the abortion differences in the two bills.

The House measure contains the Stupak amendment that effectively bans government-funding of abortions under the health care plan — consistent with current federal law under the Hyde amendment.

The Senate bill contains the Nelson-Reid deal that contains six different pro-abortion threats and forces taxpayers to pay for abortions.

“It is a meeting a minute around here,” DeGette told Roll Call magazine about the repeated efforts by top Democrats and the Obama administration to work out a solution.

Their efforts are complicated by the fact that Rep. Bart Stupak, a pro-life Michigan Democrat, has a group of 10-12 lawmakers who voted for the final bill in the House — passed by three votes — but who say they will vote no if abortion funding is included.

“We don’t want to kill the bill over abortion,” DeGette said to Roll Call. “We are willing to compromise and we are willing to compromise to current law. We think that is the intention of Bart Stupak and the pro-life guys as well.”

Stupak told Roll Call that he thinks issues other than abortion are more likely to sink the government-run health care bill.

“Abortion is the least of their problems,” he said, citing tax issues and deals cut to send money to certain states but not others.

Stupak also said lawmakers are hearing back home how unpopular the health care bill is with Americans.

“You know how popular these plans are? Like a lead balloon,” he said.

On the other side of the Stupak group is DeGette’s coalition of some 42 lawmakers who say they will vote against the bill if Stupak’s abortion funding ban remains in it.

Though she misrepresents the Stupak amendment, DeGette admits lawmakers are playing a game of chicken.

“I don’t think there’s any way to get the votes for what I want or what Bart Stupak wants,” she said. “What I want is a bill that doesn’t talk about abortion. What Bart Stupak wants is a bill that goes far beyond current law.”

In the end, DeGette thinks that some sort of middle-ground abortion language — which won’t earn the support of Stupak, his colleagues, or pro-life groups will win the day and that lawmakers who voted no on the health care bill the first time around will vote yes on final passage.

“There are also a lot of people who voted against the bill the first time in the House who will vote for a final agreement,” she told Roll Call.

Stupak told the Congressional magazine he, too, thinks a deal will be reached.

“We’ll get it worked out,” he said. “I’m a reasonable guy. I’m willing to listen."

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