For months, scores of pro-life Democrats have vowed to scuttle the entire health care bill if it pays for abortion. Now that they succeeded Saturday by inserting pro-life language into the bill that passed the House, scores of pro-abortion Democrats have vowed to scuttle the entire health care bill if it does NOT fund expanded abortion.
UPDATE 11/26/09: Pro-life Democrat Senators support House abortion funding restrictions
UPDATE 11/10/09: Liberals demonize Catholic Church and swear vengeance against pro-life Democrats
UPDATE 11/10/09: Dem congresswoman criticizes Catholic Church and calls for IRS to reconsider tax-exempt status
-- From "Abortion an obstacle to health-care bill" by Alec MacGillis, Washington Post Staff Writer 11/9/09
President Obama and Senate Democrats sought on Sunday to generate momentum from the House's passage of health-care legislation, even as a new hurdle emerged: profound dismay among abortion-rights supporters over antiabortion provisions inserted into the House bill.
Obama left the abortion issue unmentioned Sunday when he appeared in the White House Rose Garden to give brief remarks congratulating the House on its "courageous" passage of the bill.
The House passed its version of health-care legislation Saturday night by a vote of 220 to 215 after the approval of an amendment that would sharply restrict the availability of coverage for abortions, which many insurance plans now offer. The amendment goes beyond long-standing prohibitions against public funding for abortions, limiting abortion coverage even for women paying for it without government subsidies.
The abortion issue had been rumbling within the House Democratic caucus for weeks, but Saturday's votes revealed the depths of the fault lines. The amendment passed with the support of 64 Democrats, roughly a quarter of the party caucus.
But abortion-rights supporters are vowing to strip the amendment out, as the focus turns to the Senate and the conference committee that would resolve differences between the two bills.
Although House liberals voted for the bill with the amendment to keep the process moving forward, Rep. Diana DeGette (Colo.) said she has collected more than 40 signatures from House Democrats vowing to oppose any final bill that includes the amendment -- enough to block passage.
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From "Tears, tempers fly in Pelosi campaign" by Patrick O'Connor and John Bresnahan, Politico 11/8/09
One by one, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had leaned on her rank-and-file Democrats for months to cast off personal prerogatives for the sake of a history-making health care bill.
But for Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, this was too much to ask.
So when Pelosi announced late Friday that she would allow an amendment strictly limiting insurance coverage of abortions, it touched off an angry yelling match between DeLauro and another Pelosi confidant, California Rep. George Miller, and tears from some veteran female lawmakers, according to people in the room.
Some of the lawmakers argued that Pelosi was turning her back on a decades-long campaign by female Democratic members in support of abortion rights. Miller rose to Pelosi’s defense, which resulted in an angry confrontation between him and DeLauro, said the sources.
Miller told DeLauro that there were “more pro-life votes in the House than pro-choice” and that abortion-rights advocates had better acknowledge that reality.
In the end, Pelosi’s strategy paid off in a big win for her and President Barack Obama. After Rep. Bart Stupak’s (D-Mich.) amendment banning abortion funding was approved with 64 Democratic votes, Pelosi was able to push through the health care reform package on a virtually straight-line party vote, 220-215.
Pelosi wasn’t the only one getting pressure on the amendment. As rumors spread that Republicans might vote “present” in order to scuttle the entire bill, even Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called Republican leader John Boehner to make sure the GOP didn’t play any games with the Stupak amendment, sources said.
But the speaker’s decision — like so many others she made during the drafting of this bill — showed Pelosi, a Roman Catholic and committed supporter of reproductive rights, to be more ruthlessly practical than her frequent caricature as an activist, upper-crust liberal from San Francisco would suggest.
It wasn’t just that she was disappointing some members over a last-minute change they disagreed with. She had to take on her closest and senior-most lieutenants on an issue that for many of them is like an article of faith, a defining tenet of what makes them a Democrat. And when she needed the votes, that’s what she did.
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