President Barack Obama weighed in on the Stupak/Pitts Amendment to the Affordable Health Care for America Act last night in an interview. Among his comments, the President said, “I laid out a very simple principle, which is this is a health care bill, not an abortion bill…And we’re not looking to change what is the principle that has been in place for a very long time, which is federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortions…I want to make sure that the provision that emerges meets that test that we are not in some way sneaking in funding for abortions, but, on the other hand, that we’re not restricting women’s insurance choices.”
The restrictive anti-abortion Stupak/Pitts amendment to the Affordable Health Care for America Act (HR 3962) passed by a 240-194 vote of the House of Representatives on Saturday. The amendment, co-sponsored by Bart Stupak (D-MI), Joe Pitts (R-PA), Brad Ellsworth (D-IN), Dan Lipinski (D-IL), and Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA), bans abortion coverage for women in both the public option and private insurance. Under the guise of no federal funding for abortion in so-called keeping with Hyde Amendment restrictions, the Stupak/Pitts Amendment goes way beyond Hyde. This amendment bans abortion coverage even if women pay for it with their own money in the public option or private plans in the insurance exchange.
Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO), who is co-chair of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, is spearheading efforts to defeat the amendment and, so far, has gathered at least 40 signatures of Representatives who are vowing to vote against health insurance reform unless the Stupak amendment is stripped from the bill, according to RH Reality Check. The letter states that “The Stupak-Pitts amendment to H.R. 3962, The Affordable Healthcare for America Act, represents an unprecedented and unacceptable restriction on women’s ability to access the full range of reproductive health services to which they are lawfully entitled. We will not vote for a conference report that contains language that restricts women’s right to choose any further than current law,” according to a copy of the letter published by ABC.