Major Health Care Development - Pro-Life Stupak Amendment Vote OK’d for Today

By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 7, 2009 ( - Abortion negotiations stretching into Friday evening have ended in the House Rules Committee reportedly allowing a vote on Hyde-amendment language in the health care bill. The full House debate on the momentous bill is now poised to begin Saturday morning.

Democrat leadership evidently made the late concession during a Rules Committee hearing last night as part of an increasingly desperate search for enough votes to pass the health care bill.  The pro-life language spearheaded by Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak, reflecting the Hyde amendment's ban on federal funding of abortions, will at long last be open to a vote on the House floor.  Both parties in the debate expect the House to vote the Stupak amendment into the bill.

During the hearing, Stupak quoted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the 2006 campaigns, when she said, "The voice of American has a right to be heard."

"So, like every American, I wish to be heard on the sanctity of life," Stupak said.

The unexpected concession reportedly drove several pro-abortion Democrats, including Rules Committee chairman Louise Slaughter, to leave the room amid the negotiations.

There was a false start earlier in the evening, when Stupak had initially agreed to a compromise that would allow a vote on Hyde-amendment protection for the government-run public option, but not to other portions of the bill, such as taxpayer subsidies for abortion-covering insurance plans.

"There was some compromise language from different proposals that we thought would be satisfactory, our understanding was that we had an agreement. Two hours later it was not an agreement," Stupak said around 1 a.m. this morning.

Democrats hold 258 seats in the House, which means they can only afford 40 Democrats to vote against the bill and still keep a majority.  However, a group of about 40 Democrats had vowed to kill the bill by voting down its procedural rule if Stupak's amendment was not granted a vote. 

Pro-abortion groups immediately issued statements condemning the arrangement. 

"This amendment would violate the spirit of health care reform, which is meant to guarantee quality, affordable health care coverage for all, by creating a two-tiered system that would punish women, particularly those with low and modest incomes," said Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards late last night.

On the other side, National Right to Life is strongly urging pro-life Americans to call Congress today urging support for the NRLC-backed Stupak-Pitts Amendment. In its release NRTL emphasized, "the Stupak-Pitts Amendment would prohibit coverage of elective abortion in two big new federal programs created by the bill—the new federal health insurance plan ('public option') and the premium-subsidy program ('affordability credits')." 

NRTL provides detailed guidance  on contacting House Members within its online release.

American Life League has also sent out an urgent email to its members urging immediate action on the vote.  Their Friday, 5 p.m. message stated, "We’ve got little more than 24 hours until the House votes on the $1.2 trillion abortion mandate called 'health care.' The vote is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Saturday night. This is it. If Nancy Pelosi gets her way tomorrow, our government will force us to pay for abortion, contraception, embryonic stem cell research, in vitro fertilization, experiments on preborn human beings, euthanasia, rationed health care and mandatory Planned Parenthood-style sex education."

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