Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), the U.S. Representative who secured an executive order he claims will bar federally funded abortions in the health care overhaul law, told the Associated Press on Friday that he is retiring at the end of this term.
Rep. Stupak, who became a national figure for his outspoken role in fighting abortion funding in the health care bill, has been in Congress for 18 years and will make an official announcement on his retirement at 12:30 p.m. ET at Northern Michigan University in Marquette.
Although the Michigan representative recently described his life leading up to the health care vote as “a living hell,” given the harassment he received for opposing federally funded abortions, he told the Associated Press today that this did not influence his decision to retire.
However, Rep. Stupak mentioned prior to today's announcement that he is “burned out.”
“I'm just getting tired being gone all of the time,” he told the Traverse City Record-Eagle. “I have trouble getting up for the count … I'm just burned out.”
Rep. Stupak stepped into the national political spotlight last year when he introduced an amendment to the House health care reform bill that maintained the Hyde Amendment ban on using federal funds to pay for abortions. The Stupak Amendment passed in the House by a vote of 240-194 last November.
However, on March 21, the Congressman voted in support of the health care bill after negotiating an executive order with President Obama that he says will bar federally funded abortions.
In an interview with CNA, Rep. Stupak defended his actions, saying that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi had enough votes “in her pocket” to pass health care reform with or without him or those who supported his stance. In Rep. Stupak’s view, securing President Obama’s executive order on abortion funding was “absolutely” a success for the pro-life cause and for the country.
CNA recently interviewed another pro-life Democrat, Rep. Daniel Lipinksi (D-Ill.), who sees flaws in the executive order questions the effectiveness of it. On March 31, Rep. Lipinski called the health care bill “a major step in the wrong direction” in defending the unborn. Although he said that he does not want to “impugn the motives of Bart Stupak,” in his opinion, the executive order “does not really have an impact” on subsidies for individuals to purchase an insurance plan that covers abortion.
Rep. Lipinski added that the bill’s problems can be corrected before its changes go into effect in 2014 and should be fixed regardless of whether President Obama’s executive order functions as promised.