March 21st, 2010
04:20 PM ET
4 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. Jeanie

    We desperately needed health care reform and I applaud President Obama for giving us the first real reform in decades! Allowing people with pre-existing conditions to get health insurance at affordable rates is a moral win for every American! I had hoped we could get a public option to provide insurance companies with real competition, but there's always hope for the future. Congratulations President Obama! You get my vote.

    March 21, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  2. Ken in NC

    This hypocrite Stupak, like others, does not realize that an Executive Order cannot over ride the Hyde Amendment.

    March 21, 2010 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  3. dvni

    I am puzzled. For all you Republicans who so dislike the health care bill because of its $940 billion over 10 years price tag, where have you been with your righteous indignation when Congress has spent $1.05 trillion on the wars in Irag and Afghanistan since 2001? Are you saying you'd rather spend a trillion dollars in questionable foreign war efforts costing thousands of lives "to safeguard our way of life" and "promote democracy" than you would to better the lives of millions of Americans right here at home? It seems to me that if you are really concerned about budget deficits, it might have been useful had you spoken up years ago. Your premonitions of fiscal doom seem to be rather selectively applied.

    March 21, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  4. Jim

    Not perfect? That is a joke, if you are a tax payer it is out right criminal however if you are accustomed to receiving handouts at the expense of the tax payer well I guess it is not perfect and this is a promise of more free handouts to come. If you are a tax payer it means a heavier burdon and more homes lost because we cannot afford to pay the taxes.

    Tell me, why are we focused only on insurance? It accounts for only 4% of the total cost of health care, why are we not talking about the other 96% other than it is easy to villify insurance and harder to discuss doctors, nurses, hospitals etc...

    March 21, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  5. Chuck B

    I don't know why the Republicans think that they are going to get their seats back in the next election. They haven't done anything to earn it. But I got to give it up to them, they do know how to throw a (tea) party. LOL!

    The passing of this healthcare bill cements their legacy as a talk loud and do nothing party. If you have no solutions... no plans... need not bother running for office. Bye, bye Republican Party and give Moses my sincerest regards when you reach the wilderness.

    March 21, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  6. Karen

    Woman to Woman – why is it that men have so much to say and so much rule over a woman's right to have an abortion or not. No matter what side you stand on, why do men have so much say.....and do we really care about what the Catholic Bishops think? They need to get their own house in order. They should be more concerned about the crimes against so many children that have happened under their watch that the Pope is now apologizing for AGAIN. Give me a break! Not against Catholics, but when you are hiding crimes and protecting MEN who committed these crimes, you don't have a say until you get your own act together.

    March 21, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  7. The Unsub

    I am ready for a parade. God Bless President Obama. Now, Republicans get in line or get out of the way!!!!

    March 21, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  8. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Me, my family and friends passed our prays via technology to everyone we knew and they in turn kept it going. We prayed for health care reform to pass and we prayed for our great President Obama. DON'T TELL ME PRAYER DOESN'T WORK.

    March 21, 2010 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  9. Obamalism

    HAHAHA!!, he got a PROMISE from Obama.... join the crowd buddy!

    The senate parliamentarian and the GOP are getting silence from the dems over a meeting to discuss a fatal flaw in the their plans to move this through reconcilliation. Even if they pass it, it will be struck down by senate rules.

    The filibuster is alive and well.

    March 21, 2010 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  10. JohnA Realist

    For those
    republicans that say America died alittle today because of the passage of the health reform bill, and will be better in November. I say America died alittle each day that G.W. (your hero ) was in office,and that if the Republicans again are given power in November, the dieing will continue, until we bury the corpse.

    March 21, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  11. Obamalism

    Abortion has nothing to do with religion. Many athiest are against killing of unborn babies.

    Women shouldn't have the right to kill their unborn babies in the name of privacy just I can't kill my child.

    Murder trumps privacy every time.

    Regardless, you're not gonna get a dime of my money to kill your child.

    March 21, 2010 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  12. GI Joe

    The GOP has so many lies, and so much hate and fear to spread - it's a shame they have only 7 days a week to do their dastardly deeds.

    NOW – vote the GOP OUT !!

    March 21, 2010 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  13. Pat

    How gullable people can be. So an executive order on abortion is now supreme over the senate bill which will become federal law? Don't bother answering because we all know the truth. Lawmakers know better, but they will sell the American public a bill of goods like everything else. This country is in so much debt and doesn't know how to stop spending. A lot of good this health care bill will do people when they won't be able to afford to buy a loaf of bread due to the economic collapse that is coming. If we can only surive until November. Hell hath no fury like a voting public scorned!

    March 21, 2010 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  14. Paul Ronco

    It's funny how we all say 'let's get it over with' to a bill that is not in our interests when it should be clear to everybody by now that the insurance corporations would be more than happy to fight for their interests until the end of time. This makes perfect sense, too, since corporations ARE NOT PEOPLE and, among many other things, do not get sick or have to watch a loved one dying. I support single payer and, at some point, so will everyone else on this blog.

    March 21, 2010 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  15. bz

    Really? "Anti-abortion rights?" I don't see you calling the other side "anti-lifers." What happened to integrity in journalism?

    March 21, 2010 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  16. zipit

    I have new found respect for Stupak standing up for what he believes in. Bravo!

    March 21, 2010 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  17. Tom in Millstadt

    The Democrats are going to tkae a beating in November no matter what. If they are going to take a beating, take it for doing something instead of doing nothing.

    March 21, 2010 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  18. Ready for 2012

    This is terrible!!! A group of men deciding to take away a woman's right to have a legal medical procedure performed just because she has government insurance.

    DISGUSTING!!!!

    March 21, 2010 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  19. gammay

    I'll give up my support of abortion when the male member of the situation calling for abortion is held accountable for his participation in the pregnancy.

    March 21, 2010 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  20. j

    I'd be much happier if there were no anti-abortion clauses either in the bill or by executive order. This goes against a woman's right to choose. This bill is far from perfect but it's better than nothing.

    March 21, 2010 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    can we give the already born the same focus as the fetuses are getting

    March 21, 2010 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  22. max

    Rep Stupak got his 15 minutes of fame!!!! I certainly hope a strong democratic candidate runs against him. I am so sick of the grandstanding by these politicans and the expense of all Americans!
    He just prolonged the process. He was a joke. He sounds more like a republican I quarantee you I will not vote for him again.
    The bill is not great but it is a start to changing a system that is financially ruining so many american familes!!

    March 21, 2010 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  23. Miss Pen

    Wow...Is it true. I wish I knew how much more I will pay for Health Care than I do now.

    March 21, 2010 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  24. LB

    MsDp, It will be very easy to move expenses from one fund to another under this bill and effectively using federal funds for abortions. If they wanted to support the current law, why wouldn't Pelosi and Reid just say that in this bill? It is being done with mirrors.
    The law for now says a woman has a choice to have an abortion. I should also have the choice not to pay for one.

    March 21, 2010 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  25. Alex

    This is all the Repubs have left – some mythical and ideological debate on federal funding of abortion, which every reasonable and rational American knows is a non-issue.

    By the way – I'm a pro-life American -

    STOP USING MY TAX DOLLARS TO FUND ILLEGAL WARS!!!

    March 21, 2010 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
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