Democrats’ Late-Night Abortion Agreement Opens Door To Vote On Health Bill
News outlets covered the late-night deal on abortion language in the House health care overhaul bill.
Roll Call: "The deal hands a major win to abortion-rights opponents by green-lighting an up-or-down vote on a proposal by Reps. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.) to bar plans that offer abortions from new health insurance exchanges. The ban would extend to a public insurance option that House Democrats have included in their package. ... The amendment will likely pass with support from Republicans, forcing the majority of Democrats, who support abortion rights, to swallow hard in voting for the package on final passage. Democrats on the House Rules Committee who favor abortion rights made their discomfort clear early Saturday morning as they debated allowing the amendment" (Newmyer, 11/7).
The Associated Press: "Federal law currently prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortions except in the case of rape, incest of situations in which the life of the mother is in danger. That left unresolved whether individuals would be permitted to use their own funds to buy insurance coverage for the procedure in the federally backed insurance exchange envisioned under the legislation" (Werner, 11/7).
Politico: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops delivered a critical endorsement to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Saturday by signing off on late-night agreement to grant a vote on an amendment barring insurance companies that participate in the exchange from covering abortions. 'Passing this amendment allows the House to meet our criteria of preserving the existing protections against abortion funding in the new legislation,' the Bishops wrote in a letter to individual members. 'Most importantly, it will ensure that no government funds will be used for abortion or health plans which include abortion'" (O'Connor, 11/7).
CQ Politics: "As of late Friday, at least 20 House Democrats had indicated in interviews and public statements that they plan to vote against the legislation (HR 3962). Twenty 'no' votes would leave the Democrats with a pool of 238 potential votes for the measure, or just 20 more than the 218 needed to guarantee passage. No Republican support for the legislation is expected. Twenty other Democrats said Friday they remained undecided. Many of their votes were considered likely to hinge on how the bill addresses the issue of abortion and whether the government-run 'public option' plan would pay for abortions and in what circumstances. Abortion opponents want to make sure that the public plan does not in effect authorize federal funding of abortion" (Wayne, 11/7).
The Hill: "Liberals on the committee threatened to vote against the final healthcare bill if it included (anti-abortion Rep. Bart) Stupak's language, warning that it would be a return to the days of back-alley abortions. 'I forsee a return to the dark ages,' said Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.). 'I'm 73, I've seen these dark things, they use these coat hangers and die'" (Hooper and Soraghan, 11/7).