Are Anti-Abortion Democrats Open to a Deal on Health Care?

Rep. Bart Stupak says he'll vote "No" unless changes made to abortion language.

ByABC News via logo
March 19, 2010, 7:22 AM

March 19, 2010— -- Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak says he's open to a deal but will vote "No" on the health care bill unless changes are made to accommodate his more-stringent language that prevents federal funding for abortions.

"There's still no change," Stupak said on "Good Morning America" today of his "No" vote on the health care bill. "My group is holding firm.

"I want to pass health care... but there's a principle that we do not want to cross," Stupak said.

But the Michigan Democrat said he is open to a deal on the abortion language if he can get a firm commitment from the Senate.

"There is renewed interest in that piece of legislation that I and a number of us are ready to introduce. It's prepared, everybody's looking at it right now," Stupak said on "GMA." "That's one way maybe -- but we still have to deal with the Senate."

"A lot of promises are made around this town. You got to lock them down, and there has been no lock-down yet," he said. "We're still negotiating."

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., today wouldn't comment on the negotiations. When asked about Stupak's suggestion that there could be another bill to address abortion funding and she said, "I haven't heard any of that."

She said some members of the House "may be" talking about a separate bill with abortion provisions, but the focus right now is to gather the votes for the health care bill.

"This bill is about health care and not about abortion," she told reporters today. "There will be no further changes in the bill."

Another Democrat against the abortion wording in the bill, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, also said Thursday she is open to a separate bill with the House abortion language.

Stupak's amendment, which was part of the House bill but failed in the Senate, limits access to abortions for people who receive federal subsidies and those who purchase insurance through a health insurance exchange, a marketplace in which people could shop for and compare insurance plans.

Stupak's more restrictive anti-abortion language passed the House by a vote of 240-194, but it was defeated in the Senate, and it's the Senate health care bill that House Democrats are now amending.

The language in the Senate health care bill restricts the use of public funds for abortion services. But private insurance plans in the insurance exchange can cover abortion if funds for the procedure are used only from premiums paid by beneficiaries. States have the option of banning coverage in insurance plans brought in insurance marketplaces.

Proponents of Stupak argue that language will not be enough to prevent federal funding from going toward those services. But others, such as President Obama, argue that it maintains current law.