By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 31, 2009 ( – A pro-abortion amendment proposed as a “common ground” amendment was voted into the House version of President Obama’s healthcare overhaul by the Energy and Commerce Committee late Thursday, while a pro-life amendment achieved brief approval before it was struck down again hours later.

California Democrat Lois Capps, whose voting record was rated 100% pro-abortion by NARAL, introduced the faux “common ground” amendment that, while appearing to prohibit the abortion mandate in the healthcare overhaul, actually calls for the public plan to cover abortions and mandates that at least one abortion-covering plan be available in every U.S. region. The amendment was passed 30-28.

“Making abortion services not only available, but ‘cheaper and more affordable’? That’s not a principle I can endorse,'” said pro-life Rep. Bart Stupak of the Capps amendment.

Meanwhile, a pro-life provision offered by Rep.s Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Joe Pitts (R-PA) to abolish the abortion mandate initially won backing from both conservative Democrats and Republicans. The amendment said that the healthcare overhaul may not require coverage of abortion; however, it did permit exceptions for the life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest.

But just before midnight, only hours after the amendment’s approval, Committee Chairman Henry Waxman invoked House rules that allowed him to bring the amendment up for a second vote. A vote change by Blue Dog Democrat Rep. Bart Gordon of Tennessee caused the amendment to fail 29-30. Conservative Democrat Rep. Zack Space of Ohio also voted “no” after abstaining for the first vote.

(Click here to see a final tally of votes on the Stupak-Pitts amendment.)

The vote leaves the Capps “compromise” amendment to dictate the bill’s requirements on abortion funding and coverage.

Although the amendment’s language appears to do away with the abortion mandate, Capitol Hill pro-lifers note that it explicitly permits the Secretary to include abortion in the services offered by the public plan. Indeed, if the Hyde amendment is reversed, the amendment would actually require that the public plan cover abortions.

With regard to the massive subsidies authorized under the act, referred to as “affordability credits,” the Capps amendment specifically requires taxpayer subsidies to flow to plans that include abortion, but creates an accounting scheme designed to give the impression that public funds will not subsidize abortion itself.

Other provisions in the Capps amendment appear to prevent state laws from being overturned and prohibit the Secretary from mandating that all plans include abortion. But the Capps amendment also requires that an abortion-covering plan be made available in every region.

Republicans and pro-life Democrats strongly criticized the amendment.

“We don’t compromise on the use of taxpayer funds for the destruction of human life,” objected Representative Phil Gingrey (R-GA).

One pro-life amendment, a conscience-protection clause also introduced by Rep.s Stupak and Pitts, passed by a voice vote.

Following the onslaught of mark-ups last night, Chairman Waxman expressed confidence Friday that he has the votes to pass the committee bill before the month-long August recess next week. Passage in the Energy and Commerce Committee is the final hurdle before the bill faces scrutiny by the full House.

In the Senate, Finance Committee chair Max Baucus, D-Mont., said the committee’s action on the bill would have to wait until September.

“What stands out about last night’s debacle is the abortion lobby’s vice-grip on the healthcare bill – abortion will be mandated, tax subsidized, entrenched into law as ‘basic healthcare,'” commented Judie Brown of the American Life League.

“At least now we know the real agenda motivating the pro-aborts behind this bill,” said Brown. “You want to talk about healthcare as a basic human right, you want to talk about justice in the healthcare system – where is justice for the child in the womb, where is their right to healthcare? It’s denied because an even more important human right is denied – their basic, fundamental, inalienable right to human personhood.”

See related coverage:

No House Vote on Healthcare until after August Recess

Proposed Health Care Bill is an “Abortion Industry Bailout” Warns Congressman

Prominent Nun Ridicules Healthcare Vote Delay over “Insignificant Details

65,000 Americans Sign Petition Demanding Congress Exclude Abortion from Health Care Bill