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. GI Joe

    Bachmann and Palin incite violence and hate.

    Bush read books.

    President Obama gets things done for 52% of this country that voted FOR HIM.

    March 24, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  2. And?

    I'm sure Stupak and his group are satisfied now. Too bad Bart won't be in office in November. You will be getting primaried sir!

    March 24, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  3. Most Republicans - Wrong about everything, Wrong for America (and GW Bush was the worst President ever)

    Won't be enough for the "pro fetus" crowd.

    March 24, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |

    Of course it was closed and hermedically sealed from media and public viewing! Obama doesn't want anyone (especially his wacked out loony lib colleagues) to see this at all - or the next order which will nullify this one...!

    March 24, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  5. Hammerer

    Stupak held out to long. He only got $742K for his vote. The going rate in the senate began at $100 million and up. Maybe he should be defeated for stupidity.

    March 24, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  6. Mark

    I do not think this will make a difference to Congressman's Stupak's voters. He is oging to be in for a big fight in November.

    March 24, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  7. Dave

    Stupak has been duped. He sold out.

    March 24, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  8. Wisconsonite - Republicans Do NOT Care About Working Class Americans

    Are ya happy NOW, Stupid-ak???!!!! Way to waste our time and tax dollars!

    March 24, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    I don't like it, but that's what compromise means. Of course, we'll still be hearing from the loony religo-fascists on the right that "it's a baby killer." Whatevs.

    March 24, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  10. gt

    sell outs.. the dirty dozen..

    March 24, 2010 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  11. Lame

    Republicans don't want mandated insurance coverage... but they want to mandate that every woman bring their child to full term even though abortion is a legal procedure. What a joke.

    March 24, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  12. A.B.

    See Bart, President Obama is a man of his word. The new healthcare law signed by Obama will not impact existing federal law limiting abortion funding. The law will remain in place. If people want to get abortions, they will to pay through their health insurance companies or out of their own pockets. You did not need any assurances from Obama this issue. Federal law insured this.

    March 24, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. Slider

    Meaningless. The prez can't impose statuatory law; everyone knows this. It's just more stagecraft.

    By the way, how's that other executive order going?

    The one about closing Guantanimo Bay?


    March 24, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  14. Kevin in Ohio

    Totally 100% meaningless and unenforcable..... does anyone have any doubt whatsoever that the democrats and government bureacracy will follow it? Stupidity...... and it may have cost us our financial future.

    March 24, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  15. Speaking of limits...

    How about when the voters limited the terms of these POTUS
    DoubleDouble one termers:

    OneOne.................#11..1845-1849..James Knox Polk

    TwoTwo.................#22..1885-1889..Grover Cleveland

    ThreeThree...........#33..1949-1953..Harry S Truman

    FourFour................#44..2009-2013..Barach Hussein Omana

    The Voters have choices too and the people Power......!!!

    March 24, 2010 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  16. Nate

    And to think, most of those congressman will be unemployed in November.

    March 24, 2010 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  17. Audrey in Georgia

    Bart, are you happy NOW?!?

    March 24, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  18. andrew

    well, now we know which democrats need to be fired. i can't believe these fools. i even see two women in that group of morons. what are they thinking!?

    March 24, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  19. save my state.

    To Mr. Costello in this picture. Thank You for sticking to your guns on this issue. THEIR MAY YET BE MORALLY RIGHT PEOPLE IN THE DEM. PARTY.

    March 24, 2010 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  20. LacrosseMom

    Its not enough that the 1976 Hyde Amendment already PROHIBITS the use of Federal funds to be used to fund abortions! The president has to sign an additional paper stating the obvious!

    March 24, 2010 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  21. Jill American

    OK, so maybe he could get re-elected with the gay vote, but how is going to do it without the women's vote?

    March 24, 2010 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  22. Just look at them Dems...

    The Dems with their President gloating at the American People
    ................We the People shall remember Nov/2010 and 2012............

    March 24, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  23. Tony

    Apparently you did decide to show the White House picture!

    March 24, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  24. Michael from Ventura

    Did Randy Radical yell "baby Killer!" again? Oh that's right- he's a republican. Democrats have much more class (and brains) than that.

    March 24, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  25. Liberals are nasty!

    Anybody that asks me why I support the Republicans, I just tell them to go and check out CN.N and HP and see what kind of derranged people are supporting the DEM party, and there's your answer.

    March 24, 2010 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
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