By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 30, 2009 ( – Democratic House leadership yesterday unveiled the final version of the health care overhaul on Thursday, one that keeps intact language to immediately initiate government funding for elective abortions. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced at a press conference Thursday the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962), which Democrats expect to keep closed from further emendation.

“We are about to deliver on the promise of making affordable quality health care available for all Americans, laying the foundation for a brighter future for generations to come,” Pelosi announced on the steps of the Capitol. “We have listened to the American people, we are putting forth a bill that reflects our best values and addresses our greatest challenges.”

The massive bill – 1,990 pages long, and estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to cost about $1.055 trillion – creates a government-run health insurance option to compete with private insurers, and would require Americans to buy health insurance by 2013 or else pay a fine.

Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) called the bill “another freight train of big government.”

“This really is a goverment takeover of health care in America,” Pence told CNN Thursday.  “I think as the American people dig into this, it's going to become more obvious that this is a massive new bureaucracy.”

As per the Energy and Commerce Committee's Capps amendment, the bill requires funds collected from the public plan to be used to cover abortions.  In addition, taxpayer subsidies will be directed to insurance providers that cover abortions, and every region in the U.S. will be required to have at least one abortion-covering insurance plan available.

The bill also includes the infamous end-of-life planning provisions – known to some as the “death panels” – that the Senate Finance Committee's version of the bill had dropped. 

Leaders on both sides of the health care debate have acknowledged that the abortion issue, which has come to the fore on a grassroots level, could be a possible deal-breaker for the whole bill.  Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) told The Hill that abortion, as well as immigration, “are seen as potentially very decisive.”

Douglas Johnson of National Right to Life warned in a statement Thursday that “a vote for this bill is a vote to establish a federal government program that will directly fund abortion on demand, with federal funds.”

“The White House and top Democratic congressional leaders are trying to smuggle federal government funding of abortion into law, behind smokescreens of misleading, contrived language,” said Johnson.

Dr. Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life commented following the bill's debut: “Now, more than ever, pro-life members of Congress must demand the opportunity to vote on the Stupak/Pitts Amendment to prohibit abortion funding.  Explicit language must be added to this health care bill to prevent unprecedented federal funding of abortion.”

The fight against abortion expansion in the House depended largely in recent weeks to the efforts of Michigan Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak, who has vowed to try to block the House rules vote with 40 like-minded Democrats if leadership continues to insist agaist allowing a vote on a pro-life amendment.  Stupak and other pro-life lawmakers have lobbied unsuccessfully for the addition a pro-life amendment designed to secure traditional federal prohibitions on federal abortion funding.

Rep. Stupak recently indicated, however, that he would not necessarily vote against the bill in the end, even if it still contained the abortion funding.  In a town hall video published Wednesday by the Heritage Foundation blog, Stupak is shown telling local Michiganers that he “probably would not” vote against the bill if the House had a chance to vote down the pro-life amendment. 

Following the relase of the final bill yesterday, Stupak said he was “disappointed” that it still contained the Capps Amendment.  “Language in the bill still does not do enough to prevent federal funding from going to abortion services,” he said.  “I will continue to work with leadership to find satisfactory language on this issue.”