Lawmakers May Strip Abortion Funding from Health Care Bill

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

Realizing that the issue of abortion funding may cost them passage of health care reform, Democratic leaders in the house now say they may be willing to pass a separate piece of legislation that will “fix” the abortion language in the bill to satisfy pro-life members of their caucus.

According to a new report by The Hill, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said yesterday that he has already spoken about the concept with Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), the leader of a dozen pro-life lawmakers who refuse to vote for health care reform unless abortion funding is stripped.

“Separate pieces of legislation could be passed that would relate to that,” Hoyer told reporters yesterday. “That’s a possibility. I talked to Mr. Stupak today, and I’m going to be talking to him next week and he indicated he wanted to have some discussions with people. And I will do that.”

Rep. Stupak said yesterday that he has already spoken to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) about the prospects of a “sidebar” bill on abortion that would be tied to the final healthcare bill.

The reason abortion would have to be handled separately is because the process of reconciliation can only be used on budget-related issues. 

Speaker Pelosi tried to brush off the abortion problem earlier this week when she insisted that the healthcare reform package “is not an abortion bill.”

However, as she knows, Rep. Stupak and his “gang of 12” could cost her the entire bill unless it is addressed to their satisfaction.

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