Uncertain Future for Pro-Life Health Care Reform

by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

After an historic 240-194 vote in the U.S. House on Saturday evening, Rep. Bart Stupak’s pro-life amendment passed, but some pro-abortion lawmakers have already vowed to remove the amendment before the final bill comes up for a vote.

The Pitts-Stupak amendment, which was forged in a bipartisan alliance between Reps. Joe Pitts, (R-PA) and Bart Stupak (D-MI), prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion in the House health care reform bill.

Passage of the amendment infuriated pro-abortion forces across the country.

“Planned Parenthood condemns the adoption of the Stupak-Pitts amendment in HR 3962 this evening,” said Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards. “This amendment is an unacceptable addition to the health care reform bill that, if enacted, would result in women losing health benefits they have today.”

Richards blamed the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for influencing lawmakers to vote for the amendment.

“It is extremely unfortunate that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and anti-choice opponents were able to hijack the health care reform bill in their dedicated attempt to ban all legal abortion In the United States.”

However, various sources are reporting that Pelosi’s last-minute decision to allow a vote on the amendment was not because she had a change of heart about the abortion issue, but because she didn’t have the votes needed to pass her health care reform bill. Insiders say she has every intention of scrapping the pro-life amendment later on in the process.

LifeSiteNews.com is reporting that some lawmakers have already vowed to pursue such a reversal.

“I feel certain [the Stupak amendment] will come out of the bill before it comes back from committee,” pro-abortion California Democrat Lynn Woolsey told The Hill. “I will insist that it come out.”

Pro-life leaders applauded passage of the amendment as a huge pro-life victory, but also point out that there is a long road ahead.

“Today’s bipartisan House vote is a sharp blow to the White House’s pro-abortion smuggling operation,” said Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee.

“But we know that the White House and pro-abortion congressional Democratic leaders will keep trying to enact government funding of abortion, and will keep trying to conceal their true intentions, so there is a long battle ahead.”

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins applauded the House vote, calling it a “huge pro-life victory” but also warned that the House bill remains a “seriously flawed piece of legislation.”

The House bill itself has an uncertain future. The next step in the process is for the U.S. Senate to come up with a bill, which must pass in a governing body where divisions are much more pronounced than in the House. Before a final bill can become law, both Houses will then meet in Committee to meld the two bills into one that is acceptable to all.

Several Senators, such as Lindsay Graham (R-SC), already called the House version of health care “dead on arrival” and Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) said he plans to join a Republican filibuster to prevent any bill containing a public option from coming to a vote.

Realizing the difficulties ahead, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has already hinted that passage of health care reform may not happen until sometime in the early part of the next year.

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