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. Ben D

    What integrity! As a Republican opposed to the health care reform bill as it is (but fully in support of reform done in the right way), I admire Stupak's courage in holding to his moral convictions. Whether this bill makes it through all the policies involved in the Senate Reconciliation vote or not, I have great respect for Stupak, his commitment first to his morals, and then his commitment to his party. I hope that I am wrong about this bill and that if it is executed, that it proves to be a great blessing to the American people and saves many lives.

    March 21, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  2. son

    I am glad that it is over.

    The Republicans want to discuss forever. They are hypocritical and ignored the facts that the insurance company can annul the policy or raise the premium of the citizens anytime that they want.

    Let get it over with.

    March 21, 2010 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  3. Brian

    It is a historic day. The end of the democratic party as we know it.

    March 21, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  4. Sean

    Bring on November and a reality check to the Democrats when the voters vote out those that voted on this pork-filled bill that is going to cost us MORE money that we DON'T have! One day we will become the United States of China. It's a shame that Government doesn't listen to the people anymore.

    March 21, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  5. Bryan

    Healthcare will pass, it looks like, unfortunately democrats are going to be voted out of office this November and Obama will lose his re-election and the GOP will destroy the reform when they gain control again.

    March 21, 2010 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  6. mary

    There is no way Obama–who defended partial birth abortion will do anything to cut its funding. Pro-life Dems should do the upstanding Obama thing and vote 'present' like he would in this sort of pickle.

    March 21, 2010 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  7. Chris, St Petersburg, FL

    Thank you to the legislative body for passing this important bill. Americans need to not be held hostage by the health insurance industry any more.

    March 21, 2010 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  8. jo

    This health care bill is a Ponzi scheme - Madoff went to jail for these schemes. why do we allow politicians to keep spending money that we don't have. I do admire Stupak for his principled defense of human life.
    Be sure to vote in November!

    March 21, 2010 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  9. MsDp

    While I do not agree that any additional confirmation was needed regarding the abortion issue, especially since it is stated CLEARLY with this process, I am happy

    March 21, 2010 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  10. Judy

    It is evident, that Stupak, and other men in congress, still want to have control over a women's body. Religon is a choice, so is abortion.

    March 21, 2010 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  11. steven harnack

    Now get rid of the illegal hyde amendment or pass an amendment that no federal money will go towards the taking of ANY life.

    March 21, 2010 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  12. MsDp

    I do not agree that any additional confirmation was needed regarding the abortion issue, especially since it is stated CLEARLY in the legislation that federal funds can not and will not be used to purchase insurance to cover abortion; however, I am happy that stupak is happy.

    March 21, 2010 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  13. Jim B.

    Am I the only one who thinks thusly....? That a few Dems and a majority of Republicans have been agains this bill mostly because it will displease their pals in the insurance industry. But instead of admitting that, they used abortion concerns as as their faux wedge and rallying cry. Now that Obama has de-nutted them of that complaint, they have no choice was to sign on – or look like the greedy mob they are as they ignore their constituents best interests?

    March 21, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  14. Kadie Chandler

    Brilliant move on the abortion being limited to rape or incest...what does everyone want to bet that once this takes over the cases of "rape and incest" induced abortions go thru the roof?

    March 21, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  15. sifto77

    Stupak knows an executive order is trumped by congress–so do Pelosi and Obama. this little stubborn show was all for drama–it was probably planned by Pelosi...Stupak has made a "deal with the devil". He is no pro-lifer–because of him, millions of your grandkids and greatgrandkids will be aborted because of the" honorable" Mr Stupak....His deal is not worth the paper it is written on–and to think I voted for him–I am so ashamed and will say a prayer for him tonight..

    March 21, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  16. Donna Smith

    Because I remember well how JFK had to publicly assure the voters that although a Catholic he would not allow the Pope to dictate US policy, it is reassuring that the Bishops did not succeed in dictating policy through these legislators. Go, Nuns!

    March 21, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  17. Amanda Govaert

    Wow. Way to turn back Roe v. Wade.

    What a joke.

    March 21, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  18. Jin

    The Republican Party is over if they follow their instincts and suck up to the racist, bigoted, teabagger vote. Eventually Americans are going to see that the Repugnican mouthpieces [Agent Orange and Turtleman] have tried to sell them a lie about what is in this health bill. Come November these sleazy fronts for the Insurance Corporations may finally get what they so richly deserve...a footnote in a dusty history book. Fear works in the short term, but truth and honesty will eventually overcome this sad time in America.

    March 21, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  19. Libby Glass

    It appears that the United States of America will now take a step closer to joining other major democracies in viewing health care as a right not a privilege. It's a great day, but hasn't come nearly soon enough for the millions who have suffered needlessly, in a variety of ways, both physically and emotionally, over the decades because of lack of access to health care as the result of not being able to afford it. Any step is better than what we have allowed to happen to so many for so long.

    March 21, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  20. Stephen Haliczer

    The American people should reconsider their dislike of congress in light of these events. Congress has demonstrated that it does really work. This is a victory for our democracy and for the democratic process.

    March 21, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  21. icedawg

    It would be difficult to come up with any legislation that everyone would endorse. The truth is that private enterprise is reluctant to put restraints upon itself unless it is forced to do so. There will never be enough money for healthcare whether it is private or public. At least with a publicly funded and governed system there can be access to quality care that would be available to more people. The present private system has been one that is accessible for those who are employed or affluent enough to afford the insurance or the indigent. That means a large number of people have been put in jeopardy for something that for many of them they have no way to control. At least the US seems to be moving to a more compassionate system.

    March 21, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  22. Harold

    vote no on health care or you wii go in NOVEMBER

    March 21, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  23. Wow, just wow,

    America was on life support, until now. This President was impressive in 2008, but now he's not just a President – he's bigger than THAT. And he knows it, but he's still chill. Wow! He actually kept his cool through the old scare tactics...we have a great President folks. He made leaders in Congress even greater. He made America great.

    Thank You Mr. President for Restoring AMERICA.

    March 21, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  24. disgusted

    Meant to say "president will NOt change anything". All lies. Nothing will change. We are all in trouble. If you have nott actually READ the bill, you may want to now. The way it looks today.

    March 21, 2010 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  25. Im a Republican and Proud of it

    You stupid left wing lazy, worthless, bumb, bottom feeders. All this legislation is doing is dividing our country. And when it does, the left will die out because they can't fend for themselves. They have to rely on the right to pay their way. Good luck to you all when the U.S. goes to crap.....

    March 21, 2010 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
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