Sebelius on Stupak Abortion Impasse: ‘The Conversation Will Continue’

By Jacqueline Klingebiel

Mar 7, 2010 10:30am

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says President Obama and Rep. Bart Stupak share the goal of a status quo of no federal funding for abortion in the health care reform package.  In a “This Week” interview, Sebelius added that if the abortion language in the Senate bill does not satisfy Stupak, “the conversation will continue”.  Stupak says he carries with him 11 votes which hinge on abortion and those votes could be the difference in the bill’s fate in the House.

Watch video HERE:

Read full exchange HERE:

DOWD:  One very important, I think, controversial thing, is that a
few votes — Representative Bart Stupak has talked about the need that
the Senate bill has to include abortion language that was in the House
bill, to prevent federal funding of abortion and an expansion on
services.  He says he carries with him 11 votes.  Can you pass a bill or
can the president pass a bill and the Congress pass a bill without those
votes?

SEBELIUS:  Well, the goal is the same.  The president has said from
the outset, we don't want to change the status quo on abortion funding. 
Neither the Senate or the House bill has any federal funding for
abortion, none.  Yes, abortion services are provided, and people will
pay out of their own pockets, in both the Senate and the House, but they
do it in slightly different ways–

DOWD:  Is Representative Stupak wrong about this?

SEBELIUS:  Well, I think Representative Stupak has worked as a
member of Energy & Commerce.  He wants universal health care.  He wants
health reform for the people whom he represents.  I think we'll continue
to work on getting this done.  He shares the goal with the president,
that no federal funding will be provided for abortion.

DOWD:  Do you think a deal can be done that does not include the
language he wants, but something in (inaudible), is that one of the
things that can be considered?

SEBELIUS:  I think the Senate bill, actually, has a different set of
words than the amendment that Representative Stupak had in the House,
but confirmed by legal scholars and various people that it does exactly
the same thing.  There are no federal funds for abortions.  But I think
that if that does not satisfy the congressman, the conversations will
continue.  But certainly, his goal and the president's goal are the same
– do not change the status quo on abortion.

DOWD:  Well, lots of interesting issues to resolve and a deadline
that the president set for March 17th, trying to get the House to pass
the Senate bill in the House before he leaves on his foreign trip.  I
appreciate you being here.  Thanks for coming.

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