March 21st, 2010
04:20 PM ET
5 years ago

Democrats reach abortion deal on health care bill


Washington (CNN) - Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak, a leader of House Democrats opposed to abortion rights, announced Sunday that he had reached a deal with the White House that will allow him to back the health care reform bill.

He also said the deal will give Democratic leaders more than enough votes to pass the bill.

"We're well past" the 216 votes needed for passage, Stupak said. "This bill is going to go through."

President Barack Obama will issue an executive order "after the passage of the health insurance reform law that will reaffirm its consistency with long-standing restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said in a written statement.

"While the legislation as written maintains current law, the executive order provides additional safeguards to ensure that the status quo is upheld and enforced, and that the health care legislation's restrictions against the public funding of abortions cannot be circumvented."

Related: Read the entire order


Under the bill now being considered by the House of Representatives, federally-funded abortion coverage for people purchasing insurance through new insurance exchanges would be banned. Exceptions would be made in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the life of the mother.

Individuals receiving federal assistance who want abortion coverage would have to purchase the coverage using private funds.

Anti-abortion rights Democrats successfully defended a "principle that meant more to us than anything, and that's the sanctity of life," Stupak said.

Stupak said he had been reassured that Obama's order will ensure the health care bill complies with the 32-year-old Hyde Amendment, which sharply restricts federal funding for abortion.

"This legislation is a whole-life piece of legislation," said Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, D-Pennsylvania, an abortion rights opponent who backed the Stupak deal.

GOP leaders argued the deal would do little to ensure taxpayer dollars are not used to fund abortions.

"The law of the land trumps any executive order, which can be reversed or altered at the stroke of a pen by this or any subsequent president without any congressional approval or notice," said House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

"Make no mistake, a 'yes' vote on the Democrats' health care bill is a vote for taxpayer-funded abortions."

Updated: 5:00 p.m.


Filed under: Abortion • Bart Stupak • Democrats • Health care • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (208 Responses)
  1. John Pace

    Game. Set. Match.

    I'm no admirer of Stupak and his merry gang of hypocritical henchmen. Nonetheless, this is an historic day for the United States of America.

    March 21, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  2. vic, nashville tn

    YES WE CAN

    Fight is Over Bye Bye GOP and tea party

    March 21, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  3. Mark

    I'm glad the bill will now pass but it comes at a high price to the women of America whose constitutional rights to have an abortion are slowly being taken away by religious nuts. They think their minority view should rule like most cult members do. The next thing to do is to mount a primary challenge at the next election to get rid of idiots like Stupak.

    March 21, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  4. southern cousin

    Who will the Democrats demonize next in their never ending quest to steal the money from the hard working people of America. It is the hard working people of America. The barely literate products of the NEA system are coming after our money so they can use it to buy their dope. Maybe Obozo can make marijuana legalization his next noble cause. That woud really get his undereducated, no responsibility constituents mobilized.

    March 21, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  5. Annie, Atlanta

    These representatives held this bill, which will help millions of people, hostage based on religious beliefs? What ever happened to the separation of church and state? And didn't we already have a law on the books against public funding of abortion, the Hyde Amendment? And do these extremists only believe that an unborn child has the right to life, as opposed to the people dying now because of lack of health care? And, does this leave us vulnerable in the future to, let's say, C-Streeters getting a bill or executive order to kill gay and lesbian citizens? Far fetched, or not? You decide. I want my religious beliefs separated from my politics before we start looking like Iran.

    And just as an afterthought, maybe someone should be looking into their campaign re-election funds before and after this grandstanding.

    March 21, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  6. SC Vet

    Thank you Mr President – this is a great day for America!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The majority of America has spoken yet again. This is history!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 21, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  7. save my state.

    Thank you Mr. Stupak you are a hero. You and your band have made sure thing bill is about life from conception to death. Ok i'll be in favor of the bill lets hope their right on the money stuff.

    MR. STUPAK YOU ARE A HERO.

    March 21, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  8. mark

    America dies a little bit today...can't wait for November!

    March 21, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  9. Karen

    I hope someone follows up with the Republican from NJ who changed his vote to NO yesterday because of his concern regarding abortion. Now that this issue has been resolved, will he change his vote

    March 21, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  10. ServicememberForFreedoms

    An executive order that contradicts the bill being voted on today? If the bill being voted on has provisions for federal funding of abortion and it passes. That is law. This is an end around and those who claim there is no guarantee that federal funds will not be used for abortion have a valid argument. Did Pelosi put in writing somewhere that the executive order will not allow federal funding of abortions, or does it just include the generic term, "safeguards" against such funding.
    If there is a change to the bill, in this case, wording that is contradictory to the federal funding of abortions, then doesn't that bill not only have to pass the House, but also be voted on in the Senate? But since the Democrats just want this rushed to the President's desk, the vote to pass seems like it will happen as is regardless of the deals and executive orders that might follow. When democratic supporters see they've lost some freedoms of choice and are mandated to buy health insurance, don't complain. When democratic supports see federal education funds being used to pay for this bill and your child can't get a college grant, don't complain. This bill does not reform health care, it deals with health care but is far from reforming it.
    Federal control, loss of freedoms, taking funding from education, and increasing taxes, and above all, this belief that people will get something for nothing will ruin this nation more. If this bill was a valid attempt to reform health care, then the Democratic majority in both houses of Congress wouldn't have so much trouble getting enough votes in the first place and no deals forcing states to pay for deals made with other states would've taken place.

    March 21, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  11. Independent

    Will Rep. Cao now support health care for America? The executive order will uphold existing law of the Hyde Amendment.

    March 21, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  12. Gary

    You all have no idea the problems this bill is going to create. It is dishonest and immoral. Enjoy this victory while you can – because in November, Pelosi and the Democrats are going to be OUT!!!

    March 21, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  13. Van

    Stupak's just grandstanding. Don't let the door hit you on your way out, GOP!

    March 21, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  14. ServicememberForFreedoms

    The attack on Pearl Harbor was a historic day as well. The theme has changed from "Yes We Can" to "Let's Make A Deal". Monty Hall would be proud.

    March 21, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  15. John an Independent from NY

    This bill is trash. It should be voted down by responsible people. Fiscally irresponsible that comes from someone who does not in way support the republicans.

    March 21, 2010 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  16. 8 Years of the Bush Error = Recession and Record Unemployment for ? Years.

    As a man, I still say when Stupak gives birth to a watermelon via his navel, he gets a voice at the table.

    March 21, 2010 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  17. Angus McDugan

    Well, we may not get cross state competition of insurance, tort reform, or anything that would really help drive down the costs of health care, but we did get some loose commitment related to not using tax dollars for killing babies.

    March 21, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  18. Brandon

    It's ironic that a year ago, Republicans were going to support health care–but didn't want a public option or money for abortion spending...but democrats (mostly Nancy Pelosi and a few powerful allies of hers) didn't want to compromise on those two things (among a few minor other things)... and yet democrats couldn't control their own party... and now those two things, which most liberal demorctats were insistent upon–now are NOT in this health care plan–so we could have saved MONTHS OF BATTLES and passed a lot of other legislation, if only everyone would have compromised all along. Thanks Nancy Pelosi for wasting all our time!!!

    March 21, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  19. Jan

    Some right to life House Republicans are working with Michael Steele to add wording to the Republican party's platorm on the abortion issue. They hope to start a grass roots movement for women to "host" embryos that have been "on ice" for years, but aren't wanted to, in their words, give them life and a happy home. Supposedly, Steele is hoping for big support from the Roman Catholic church. There has been debate as to whether the Republican party should move forward on this publically before mid term elections. They have been energized how all the abortion hoopla has polarlized attempts to reform health care for people that are actually living, not in a test tube. This should be interesting to watch this proposal move forward.

    March 21, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  20. commentor

    Nooooo!!! I just saw my future income decrease drastically...

    Oh well. At least now I can not purchase health insurance, pay the penalty, and then if/when I get sick purchase insurance because they can't discriminate based on pre-existing conditions. Maybe that will offset the increased taxes...

    March 21, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  21. Healthcare Yes

    Will Republican Representative Anh “Joseph” Cao of Louisiana now vote "yes" for healthcare?

    March 21, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  22. Khurram

    I had a thought last night. Why didnt Pr Obama just put a provision in there somewhere whereby allowing individual states to decide on abortion as they wish?!!! This would have prevented a lot of drama. but maybe there is something else out there that didnt make that happen.

    March 21, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  23. An unhappy RN

    For those of you supporting healthcare reform – while I agree it needs to be done – having it done by wheeling, dealing and arm twisting just shows that it is not going to be done in the best interest of the American people. For the speaker of the house to say pass it and we will fix it later, is like your mechanic saying drive your car without your tire, I will put it on after lunch. God help us with the ignorant people who support this out of control politicians!!!

    March 21, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  24. Marcus Tate

    OK – and BYE BYE Democrats come November!

    March 21, 2010 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  25. Kathleen

    My husband and I are retired citizens! We are catholic and are not in favor of abortion, but are becoming slowly in favor of a woman's right to choose. I was not for the obstruction that the Stupak amendment indicated. Now, that the Stupak Amendment has worked out in favor of passing a bill that would save millions of lives and give more support to mothers to be, possibly choosing for life rather than death for the unborn. I am, today, proud of Bart Stupak.

    I did not want the Stupak amendment to hold up the Health Care Bill, but am proud, now, of what he did and what the amendment stands for.

    I have NEVER been AFRAID that my husband and I would not receive the Medicare or S.S. that we have worked for all of our life. NEVER once was I afraid that SOMETHING would be taken away from me!
    That would have been very selfish, indeed, had the Health Care Bill not passed because of fears based upon what the Republicans Scare Tactics lied about.

    Medicare Advantage, which I don't have or believe in, is a farce. What do these retirees get from Medicare Advantage? A gym membership!
    And from what I hear reported is that the money spent on Medicare Advantage goes directly into the BIG INSURANCE COMPANIES POCKETS! When it comes to a fair chance for all Americans to be treated respectfully or Medicare Advantage, I'll choose a quality of life for ALL AMERICANS!

    Seniors, that could stay home and listen for the truth, would NOT be AFRAID. I AM NOT AFRAID. I want treatment for all, and especially our children and grandchildren. WE MUST LOOK PAST OUR OWN SELFISH SELVES!!!!! Thank you Democrats. No one would have ever visited this, nor WILL EVER AGAIN! It's is Done, and they, the Dems. must fight for more-the PUBLIC OPTION and take the money out of the hands of the Insurance Companies who treat American's badly.

    This is truly a DAY for CELEBRATION! And rich people, pay your taxes, will ya? And Republicans, you are FOOLS of the WORSE KIND! I watched and listened and know who you are and American know you are NOT FOR ANY ENTITLEMENT PROGRAMS so you can spend the money on WARS!

    March 21, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
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