Stupak Optimistic on Sidebar Bill Banning Abortion Funding, Pro-Lifers Skeptical

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

Stupak Optimistic on Sidebar Bill Banning Abortion Funding, Pro-Lifers Skeptical

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 9
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — Congressman Bart Stupak, the de facto leader of the coalition of pro-life Democrats who may vote no on the Senate health care bill because of its massive abortion funding, expressed optimism that a deal could be work out on a sidebar bill to ban funding that goes along with the main bill.

However, pro-life advocates remain skeptical and worry such a bill would enable House passage of the Senate measure and Obama would simply sign the bill without accepting the abortion funding ban.

Stupak has already talked about the possibilities of a sidebar bill and has held meetings with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top pro-abortion Democrats pushing the government-run health care measure.

In comments to the Associated Press, Stupak said he expected to continue those meetings this week and is hopeful a deal will be reached.

"I’m more optimistic than I was a week ago," Stupak said Monday night before a local town hall meeting with his Michigan constituents.

"The president says he doesn’t want to expand or restrict current law (on abortion). Neither do I," Stupak said. "That’s never been our position. So is there some language that we can agree on that hits both points — we don’t restrict, we don’t expand abortion rights? I think we can get there."

With the reconciliation process not able to stop the abortion funding in the Senate health care bill — the rules for the companion reconciliation bill would not allow changes to the abortion funding — Stupak has said a sidebar bill is a possibility.

Stupak also said he shouldn’t be blamed for raising the abortion issue — and that pro-abortion Democrats who put abortion funding in the bill in committee made it such a controversial point.

"So what did they do? They injected it into the debate. Everyone thinks I did; I did not," he said.

Stupak told AP that nothing has changed about his analysis that, without banning abortion funding, Pelosi doesn’t have the votes to get the House to pass the pro-abortion Senate bill.

A sidebar bill may not necessarily win support from pro-life advocates because it is fraught with strategic problems in terms of whether it can be approved and whether Obama would keep a potential pledge to sign it.

A sidebar bill would likely be similar to the Stupak amendment the House approved on a lopsided vote. However, the Senate rejected a similar amendment from Sen. Ben Nelson and there is no indication a second vote on a sidebar bill would result in a different outcome than before.

Obama is under no obligation to sign the sidebar bill. In fact, he would face tremendous pressure from Planned Parenthood, NARAL and the abortion lobby to veto the bill — leaving Americans obligated to pay for potentially hundreds of thousands of abortions under the health care measure the sidebar bill enabled.

The Catholic bishops have said they would promote such a bill — because they favor a health care reform measure — but other pro-life advocates are skeptical.

Conservative writer Michelle Malkin worried about the "conflicting signs" Stupak is giving — expressing dismay about his "optimistic" quote but delight with his mentioning that he turned town a chance to sit at a private box with President Barack Obama to discuss the situation.

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