March 24th, 2010
04:20 PM ET
12 years ago

Obama signs executive order on abortion limits


Michigan Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak and other 12 other House Democrats joined President Obama Wednesday for the signing of an executive order about abortion funding.
(Photo Credit: Pete Souza/White House Photo)

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama signed an executive order Wednesday ensuring that existing limits on the federal funding of abortion remain in place under the new health care reform law.

Read: Obama's executive order

Unlike the signing of the health care bill Tuesday - which was conducted under the glare of television cameras - Wednesday's event was closed to the news media.

It was attended by Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan and 12 other House Democrats opposed to abortion rights, without whose help the landmark overhaul bill would not have passed, political observers say.

The White House has said the executive order reaffirms abortion funding restrictions first enacted in 1977.

"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," the White House said previously.

Stupak said the order makes very clear that the current law applies to the new law.

"I have said from the start that my goal was to see health care pass while maintaining the principle of the sanctity of life," he said Tuesday.

At one point, the abortion issue nearly derailed the reform bill. But after Obama promised the executive order, the anti-abortion Democrats switched their votes to "yes" to help pass the measure pass 219-212 on Sunday night.

Stupak had led the anti-abortion Democrats in opposition to the new health care law because, he claimed, it would allow federal funding for abortions beyond the current limits of cases of rape or incest, or if the
woman's life is in danger.

The controversy centered on whether the bill would force 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.

Leading up to the vote Sunday night, the main focus of anti-abortion activists was the insurance "exchanges" created by the law, the new marketplaces in which businesses and individuals will be able to buy insurance.

Under the exchanges, there must be a plan that offers abortion coverage and another that doesn't, according to the measure.

To appease abortion opponents, Democrats also added language requiring anyone whose policy does cover abortion to pay - separately - a small surcharge, with the funds kept separate.

Stupak and other abortion opponents also complained about a lack of anti-abortion restrictions for new, federally run community health clinics, which would receive $7 billion under the legislation.

Obama's executive order specifically addressed those concerns.

Filed under: Abortion • Bart Stupak • Health care • President Obama
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. forty

    Now quit your whining! I bet you find something else to be negative about! The GOP is the party of foot dragging, negative, fascist, racist pigs.

    March 24, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  2. Marc

    'The White House has said the executive order reaffirms abortion funding restrictions first enacted in 1977.'
    But the lies and smears and fearmongerism of those against the Health Care Reform, whom used the 'federal funding for abortions' lie ad nauseam, forced its existence.

    March 24, 2010 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  3. jojomcgee

    Barack will stupak them just the way that Stupak stupaked the unborn.

    March 24, 2010 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  4. Michael

    It is insane to suggest that anyone actually wants an abortion. Men who do so should be given surgery for hemhorroids and then asked if it was fun.
    Women get abortions because, however awful the abortion might be, they feel the options are worse. Make options better, and abortions will cease altogether.
    Want to stop abortions? Give teenagers sexual education and access to birth control. Then sentence teen-age parents (and THEIR parents) to a year of community service. Deadbeat dads should be sterilized, regardless of age. Same for repeat teenage moms. Voila: teenage pregnancy rate approaches zero.
    Now for the other major abortion demographic: moms in poverty. For heaven's sake, subsidize motherhood already. Free college education is a no-brainer. With deadbeat dads out of the picture, and moms getting an education and feeding the kids, abortion will not be a matter of economics.
    Finally, for victims of rape: fast-track to adoption, with compensation equivalent to surrogate motherhood. Also castration AND prison terms equal to murder 1 for rapists.
    It took me 5 minutes to write this. Impossible to legislate? How many Americans sympathize with rapists? How much money do we spend on pro-choice / anti-abortion marketing? Use it to cover costs.
    Abortion is a false issue, good for polarizing voting blocks but totally unnecessary to our nation. We could stop abortions while keeping them legal, just like there is no law against drowning oneself, yet nobody seems to want to. The options are more attractive.

    March 24, 2010 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  5. ted

    This is CHANGE we can believe in. Thank you President Obama and the representatives and senators of the Democratic party.

    March 24, 2010 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  6. Chris D.

    THE dems HAVE A HUGE TENT!!!!!! UNLIKE THE GOP......

    March 24, 2010 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  7. Timothy

    Twelve traitors all smiling at a community organizer lying right through his over-sized teeth.

    March 24, 2010 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  8. Maria

    To Michael's resonse here...

    This will just make it easier for more people, yes, Blacks and Hispancs, to get more free abortions. And, I'm a Hispanic American. You are SOOOO stupid. My daughter had a friend in college who had 4 (yes 4!!) abortions during time in college, just because she wanted to hang out with every guy she could and didn't want responsibility to raise a child. She went to a 'free' clinic for the abortions. So, Please, don't give me the sad story that all abortions are needed and for empathy for these no-good people who believe they can just 'fix' things by having an abortion. Sounds like you're a baby-killer as well. Good riddance!

    March 24, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  9. jen

    Nice move President, we support you! May God bless you!

    March 24, 2010 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |

    You RepubliKLANS are such sad, bitter people,... you send your diabolical messiah in Ann Coulter up here to Canada, to spread hatred and venom,... we're too smart to be preyed upon, by her,.. we said go home,... and she left on her broom. huffing and puffing,... intelligent Americans need to stand up, to the likes of Coulter, Beck, and Limbaugh,... they are cowards when confronted.

    March 24, 2010 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  11. Donnatella

    You republicans are the worst losers I have ever seen, what the hell is wrong with you people, what do you want him to do mail a copy of the executive order to you, or is it just that you cannot stand a man like Obama having more power than you. You guys walk around like you are the best thing that ever happened, well guess what you aren't, get over yourselves.

    March 24, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  12. Lori in St Pete

    Just look at them Dems... March 24th, 2010 5:01 pm ET
    "The Dems with their President gloating at the American People
    ................We the People shall remember Nov/2010 and 2012............"

    As I read that, I imagined Sideshow Bob was saying it, hiding in some shadowy abyss, his beady eyes smoldering with hatred.

    March 24, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
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