Stupak still ‘optimistic’ about solution to abortion dispute despite Waxman remark

Reps. Bart Stupak and Henry Waxman.
Reps. Bart Stupak and Henry Waxman.


Pro-life Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak remains “optimistic” about a solution to disputed abortion restrictions in the new health care bill despite reports that negotiations have ended, a spokeswoman says. The Congressman has also said that Democratic leaders told him they want the federal government to pay for abortions.

Some pro-life Democrats say the language in the Senate health care reform bill is not strict enough to prevent taxpayer dollars from contributing to money that might be used to subsidize abortions.

Democratic leaders on Thursday said that they can’t resolve the dispute using budget reconciliation rules. Instead, they hope that only a few House Democrats who voted for the health care package will oppose the Senate version because of abortion.

Many House Democrats who oppose abortion are “either satisfied enough with the Senate provision, or they decide that that's as much as they're going to get and they don't want to defeat health care," claimed Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, according to the AP.

Some reports have characterized the legislative situation as the end to the opportunity to add abortion restrictions to the health care bill.

CNA sought comment from the office of Rep. Bart Stupak, the Michigan Democrat who sponsored the successful Stupak-Pitts Amendment that restricted abortion in the House version of the health care bill.

Stupak press secretary Michelle Begnoche in a Friday e-mail told CNA that he has not reached an agreement on abortion funding in the health care legislation.

“Over the past week the Congressman had meaningful discussions with Chairman Waxman and Majority Leader Hoyer and remains optimistic that language can be worked out,” she commented.

However, Rep. Stupak gave an interview to Marquette, Michigan radio station WKQS’ Mark & Walk morning show in which he described a conversation he said he had with Rep. Waxman about the Senate version of the health care bill.

“I gave him the language. He came back a little while later and said, 'But we want to pay for abortions.'

“I said, 'Mr. Chairman, that's --we disagree. We don't do it now, we're not going to start.'

"'But we think should,'" Waxman answered, according to Stupak.

"I said, 'Well, I'm sorry but the House has spoken. We had that debate. We won 240-190. You forced the vote, a vote we won fair and square and we're not gonna, this is what it is. If you want to move health care keep current law,'" Stupak replied.

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