Pro-life Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) has called on President Obama to back up his stated support for the exclusion of abortion funding from health care legislation. Recounting how congressional leaders are opposing funding restrictions, Stupak warned that action is needed as “crunch time” arrives.
Rep. Stupak, who is advocating the inclusion of a Hyde Amendment provision that would bar federal abortion funding from proposed health care reform, spoke about his health care conversation with President Obama in an interview with CNSNews.com.
On Sept. 9 President Obama had told a joint session of Congress: “Under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions.”
Asked whether the statement was accurate, Rep. Stupak said he had read that statement to the president over the phone.
“And he said: ‘What it says is “under my plan”’—meaning the president’s plan. And I said: ‘With all due respect, sir, you do not have a plan. The only plan we have out is the House plan.’
“So, I don’t know if it is a game of semantics or what,” Rep. Stupak told CNSNews.com.
According to the congressman, the president did not say that the existing health care reform bill in the U.S. House, H.B. 3200, excludes federal abortion funding. Rep. Stupak agreed with the CNSNews.com interviewer that the president’s comment refers to a plan of his that only exists in theory and not to the one actually drafted in committee.
“And when I pointed this out, he said: ‘Go back and work with the people on your committee and get this matter worked out. Work with the speaker. Work with us, would you?’ And I said: Yes, I would. And we have tried. But we haven’t been able to resolve our differences because we do not want public funds going for abortion.”
Rep. Stupak reported that President Obama supports the goal of prohibiting federal dollars from being used to buy insurance that covers abortions, but has not stated his support for Rep. Stupak’s specific language.
“He is supportive of what I am trying to do. However, we are getting down to crunch time. And I would call upon the President to help us out here. The speaker has told me I will not have my amendment. It will not be made in order. It will not be part of 3200.”
At present the House health care legislation includes the Capps Amendment, which would use public funds to pay for abortions, Rep. Stupak explained. Without the cooperation of the president and congressional leaders, he will not have the opportunity to delete those provisions or to add the Hyde Amendment to supersede them.