Dem Leaders Plan to Block Vote on Pro-Life Health Amendment, Fearing It Otherwise "Certain to Prevail": AP

By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 23, 2009 ( - A final attempt to block a vast federal policy shift in favor of abortion will not be granted a vote as the U.S. House of Representatives considers President Obama's health care bill, because Democrat leaders fear the attempt would likely succeed, reports the Associated Press today.

As the health care bill prepares for a final battle on the House floor, Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan is going head-to-head against his own party leaders, who are steadily pressuring him and about two dozen other pro-life Democrats to fall in line behind the abortion-promoting measure.

After his work to include abortion-blocking language in earlier versions of the bill that was thwarted at every turn, Stupak has vowed one more effort at a pro-life amendment on the House floor.

But Associated Press writer Erica Wagner reports that, since a pro-life amendment would likely attract support from both parties, Democratic leaders plan to block Stupak from offering it: "Such an amendment would be almost certain to prevail, since it likely would attract the votes of most Republicans as well as some Democrats. So Democratic leaders won't let Stupak offer it."

If the vote is blocked, Stupak has repeatedly vowed that he and other pro-life lawmakers will resort to a last-ditch effort to thwart the measure by assembling "no" votes on a procedural measure that needs to pass before debate can begin.

Because of an amendment that pro-abortion Rep.s Henry Waxman and Lois Capps pushed through the House Energy and Commerce Committee in July, the House bill explicitly opens the subsidies collected under the public plan to abortion, directs subsidy monies to plans that cover abortion, and requires each U.S. region to have an insurance plan that covers abortion. The Capps amendment largely mirrors language found in the Senate Finance Committee's version of the bill.

This week, the House Democrats launched its first official survey feeling out how lawmakers will likely vote on the health care overhaul - a traditional time for leaders to focus pressure on lawmakers who have strayed from the party line.

Stupak, whose pro-life amendment was rejected in the July meeting, has taken a leading role alongside GOP pro-life lawmakers against the bill's vast expansion of abortion. Stupak lightheartedly referred to his disagreement with Rep. Waxman, with whom he has continued discussing the abortion issue. "I'm a little taller. Our minds don't meet," said Stupak of the shorter Waxman.

Waxman, like other Democrat leadership including Nancy Pelosi, President Obama, and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, continued to deny that the money directed to abortion providers under the bill qualifies as "federal funding for abortion services." "We have done everything we can to ensure that there will be no federal funds for abortion services," said Waxman.

The Capps amendment contains a provision to segregate federal funds to abortion-covering plans such that none would pay for abortions directly. However, as the funds would nonetheless free up other money to pay for abortions, the National Right to Life Committee's legislative director Douglas Johnson decried the measure as a "bookkeeping scam" designed to give the amendment the appearance of a compromise measure.

See related coverage:

183 Congressional Reps Tell Speaker Pelosi: No Abortion Coverage, or No Health-Care Bill

Healthcare Vote Pushed Back to September

House Pro-Abortion Health Amendment Passes: Pro-Life Amendment Passed then Struck Down