By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Hopes for quick passage of the Senate version of health care reform in the U.S. House may have been dealt a death blow by at least seven pro-life members who are now saying they won’t vote for the bill unless it is stripped of all abortion coverage.
Fox News.com is reporting that Rep. Bart Stupak, author of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment which bans all public funding of abortion from health care reform, says that unless similar language is written into the bill, at least seven lawmakers plan on voting “no,” with more likely to join them.
“Unless the language changes, there’s at least 12 Democrats who have said they could not vote for health care unless we keep the current law, which says no public funding for abortion,” Stupak told Fox News.
Other representatives who will join him in voting “no” on the Senate bill are James Oberstar of Minnesota, Kathy Dahlkemper of Pennsylvania, Steve Driehaus of Ohio and Marion Berry of Arkansas.
Rep. Joe Donnelly of Indiana has also joined their ranks in recent days. “I would not vote for it,” Donnelly told the Rochester Sentinel on Tuesday. “From my reading of it, it does permit federal funding for abortion related services, in the Senate bill as it stands today, and so that is a fatal flaw in my opinion.”
Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois has also gone on the record as changing his vote to no if asked to pass the pro-abortion Senate bill.
“Protecting the sanctity of life is a matter of principle,” Lipinski said.
Even though there has been talk in recent days that some sort of compromise might be possible, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the Democrats’ lead pro-choice negotiator, was noncommittal yesterday when talking to Fox News about potential changes to the bill.
“They’d like to change it, that may be changed, but it may have to be changed at some future time. That’s been my view but nothing has been resolved,” he said.
That leaves House Speaker Nancy Pelosi without the votes to pass the Senate bill, which must be done in order for Congress to use the controversial “reconciliation” method. Pelosi needed the Stupak Amendment to pass the House version of health care, and even with this amendment, the bill squeaked through on a 220-215 vote.
Since that time, four of those 220 “yes” votes have departed: Reps. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii and Robert Wexler of Florida resigned. Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania died last month and Rep. Parker Griffith of Alabama switched parties and said he will not support the bill.
A fifth lawmaker, Rep. Eric Massa of New York, who voted against the legislation last year, resigned this week, which means the Senate bill now requires 216 votes to pass.
However, with the pro-life defectors included, the numbers just don’t add up and lawmakers close to Speaker Pelosi say she’s well aware of the problem.
An unnamed Democrat told Fox News’ Carl Cameron that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is “smart enough to realize” that without the Stupak Amendment, “the bill fails.”
“The debate is just like it was before,” the Democrat said.
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