Washington (CNN) - The abortion issue nearly derailed House Democrats from passing the landmark health care reform bill Sunday night.
Political observers note that if it weren't for anti-abortion Democrats switching their votes to yes - after working with President Obama and House Democrats - the reform bill wouldn't have passed. It was adopted in a narrow 219-212 vote.
Obama threw the group a lifeline in an effort to make sure he had their votes, announcing he would issue an executive order to ensure that existing limits on federal funding of abortion remain in place.
The controversial issue provided an electrifying debate on the House floor as Republicans and Democrats clashed over the deal.
Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Michigan, led the anti-abortion Democrats in opposition to the Senate bill, because he said it would allow federal funding for abortions beyond the current limits of cases of rape, incest or if the mother's life is in danger. Outside groups like the National Right to Life Committee and Roman Catholic Bishops joined in the concern.
The controversy has centered on whether the bill forces all taxpayers into paying for abortions - by subsidizing insurance policies that pay for the procedure and by funding federal health clinics that might offer abortions.
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