By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 30, 2009 ( – Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan clarified his goals for the health care bill in a column for The Hill Thursday, saying he would keep pushing hard for a chance to vote on a pro-life amendment on the House floor. However, he said, he was not aiming to kill the bill over the issue, and ultimately “could accept” an abortion-expanding bill if the whole House voted to keep it that way.

“I have not made unreasonable demands. I have simply asked that there be a straight up-or-down vote on my amendment reflective of current laws,” wrote Stupak. “If we had a clean vote on this amendment and lost, I could accept that. My pro-life colleagues and I simply want, and deserve, a chance to vote our conscience.”

The column was published just after Foundry, the Heritage Foundation's blog, published a video of Stupak at a Cheboygan, Mich. town hall meeting giving voters a similar message.

“If everything I want [is] in the final bill, I like everything in the bill except you have public funding for abortion, and we had a chance to run our amendment and we lost. OK, I voted my conscience, stayed true to my principles, stayed true to the beliefs of this district, could I vote for healthcare? Yes I still could,” Stupak said in the video.

Stupak's effort to introduce the Hyde amendment, which would halt the bill's mandated federal abortion funding, was rejected in the Energy and Commerce Committee in July. Since then, he has taken a leading role in the House's pro-life pushback by demanding an opportunity for the full House to vote on the Hyde amendment language.

If Democrat leadership refused the vote, Stupak says he has enough Democrats on his side to block the bill by “bringing down the rule,” – that is, voting against the rule for the bill, which must be approved before the bill is introduced.

In July, Stupak and 19 other Democrats issued a letter to House leadership that stated of the health care overhaul: “Plans to mandate coverage for abortions, either directly or indirectly is unacceptable.” asked Rep. Stupak's office whether he would ultimately vote for the bill, assuming other aspects of the bill were satisfactory, even if his bid to force a vote on the pro-life amendment were to fail.

In an email response, Michelle Begnoche, Rep. Stupak's Press Secretary, stated: “The Congressman has said that he wants a clean vote on the inclusion of Hyde language in the health care reform legislation. If he gets a clean vote on Hyde language and if for some reason that language is not adopted, then the Congressman will consider the bill in its totality and may well vote for the bill if he feels the pros outweigh the cons.”

Begnoche said Stupak is “hopeful and cautiously optimistic that an equitable solution on the issue of abortion funding will be reached prior to a vote on final passage out of the House.”

“Nobody has fought harder to ensure that federal funding is not provided for abortion coverage in health care reform than Congressman Stupak,” said Begnoche. “He will continue whipping his colleagues to oppose bringing the bill to the floor for a vote until a clean vote on his amendment is allowed.”

Pro-life blogger Jill Stanek said she believes pro-lifers should “remain calm” about Stupak, pointing out that the Congressman, and his opposition, are both certain that the pro-life amendment would win if offered – making his hypothetical scenario impossible.

“This is a very, very tenuous time, not the prudent moment for pro-lifers to start attacking Stupak, IMO [in my opinion],” wrote Stanek. “He has enough enemies as it is. He is taking on his House leader Nancy Pelosi. He is taking on Obama. Stupak is under immense pressure.”

See related coverage:

Stupak Town Hall Video: I Would Ultimately Vote for Abortion-Expanding Health Bill


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