(CNSNews.com) – While many pro-life Democrats in the House of Representatives say they will not vote for a health care reform bill unless it explicitly prohibits federal funding for abortion through insurance plans, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has declined to state whether the final legislation should address the issue.
On the July 26 edition of CNN’s State of the Union, for example, host John King asked Pelosi: “If this bill passes and there’s a public option, should that public option cover abortions?”
Pelosi said: “That’s not--that’s not the issue. The issue is people go out there to--we’ll be working on that issue. But that’s not the issue. …”
King then asked the Speaker about pro-life Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who has said he wants language similar to the Hyde Amendment, to restrict taxpayer-funding of abortion, in the health care reform bill.
Pelosi said: “Well, I don’t know that that – that Bart’s language is exactly that. But those – we have people who are working together to help promote health insurance for all Americans, that people will be treated the same in a public option as they are in a private option and that this issue should not be an issue, being respectful of Bart Stupak’s concerns and respectful of full reproductive health care for America’s women.”
Stupak, along with 18 other House Democrats, sent a letter to Pelosi on June 25 stating that they “cannot support any health care reform proposal unless it explicitly excludes abortion from the scope of any government-defined or subsidized health insurance plan.”
“Without an explicit exclusion, abortion could be included in a government subsidized health care plan under general health care,” reads the letter. “The health care reform package produced by Congress will be landmark, and with legislation as important as this, abortion must be addressed clearly in the bill text.”
In a July 22 interview with CBS News, Stupak noted that the Democratic leadership in the House was blocking all amendments that would prohibit funding of abortion through the health care bill.
“We are not even allowed to offer the amendment on the floor,” said Stupak. “And there are members who are not pro-life, who are pro-choice, but who think it is wrong of leadership to deny me and others the opportunity to express our judgment on this issue.”
Stupak said that there were at least 39 House Democrats would vote against health care legislation if it did not explicitly include language prohibiting funding of abortion through insurers.
When asked about the pro-life Democrats’ letter on July 16, Pelosi told CNSNews.com: “We have a number of letters that are coming in to us. I don’t know if they are all saying they are not going to support the bill, but that it might be more difficult for them to support the bill.”
She further said: “All of these issues will be worked out through the legislative process.”
President Barack Obama told CBS’s Katie Couric on July 21 that he did not want to “wade into” whether health reform should include coverage for abortion. Stupak told CBS that one cannot avoid the issue because reproductive rights are intrinsic to health care coverage.
“You cannot not talk about it,” Stupak told CBS News in reference to the president’s remark. “The president was elected to make tough decisions, just as I was elected to make tough decisions. These are tough decisions – you don’t run from them.”