By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 29, 2009 ( – Fiscally conservative House Democrats who had been holding out against President Obama's health care overhaul in the final remaining House committee announced this afternoon that they had developed a satisfactory version of the bill, which will now move forward.

Rep. Mike Ross (D-AK),a member of the fiscally conservative Democrat group called the “Blue Dogs” that had opposed the bill in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said Wednesday that his group agreed to begin drafting and debating the bill immediately. The announcement marks a stark change from last Friday, when members of the Blue Dogs had stormed angrily out of the committee, saying that they had been “lied” to, and that negotiations had completely broken down.

But, said Ross today, the full House would not vote on the legislation until after the August recess.

“We've been trying to get this done since Harry Truman. Let's not rush it,” Ross told reporters.

According to a Bloomberg report, the deal cuts some of the long-term cost of the healthcare overhaul, and limits penalties on employers who don't provide coverage, among other changes.  However, there was no indication that the bill had been amended to exclude mandatory coverage for abortion, or taxpayer funding for the procedure. 

Pro-life commentators have raised the alarm over the bill in its current form, as they say legal precedent concerning Medicaid shows that broad terms such as “inpatient services,” “outpatient services” and “physician's services” are frequently interpreted by the courts to include abortion.  Abortion giants such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL have steadily endorsed Obama's health care overhaul as a means of expanding abortion access.

Several amendments issued by pro-life lawmakers in the House and Senate to protect against the implicit expansion of abortion in the healthcare legislation have failed. 

At a press conference yesterday, Energy and Commerce Committee member Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) vowed to offer more pro-life amendments during the committee's mark-up this week.

“ObamaCare is the Abortion Industry Bailout Act of 2009,” said pro-life veteran Rep. Chris Smith at the same event.  “Unless the legislation explicitly excludes abortion by amendment, abortion will be forced on every health plan in America.”

A group of 20 pro-life Democrats sent a letter to Nancy Pelosi at the end of June, vowing not to support any health care legislation that does not preclude taxpayer-funded abortion coverage.

A list of House Energy and Commerce Committee members can be viewed here.

To contact House representatives click here.

To contact Senators, click here.

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See related coverage:

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

Over 36,000 Participate in Webcast to Stop the Abortion Mandate in Obama Healthcare