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Monday, March 22, 2010

House passes overhaul bill after last-minute deal turns pro-life Democrats

To understand any new legislation or policy regarding abortion and conscience, bear in mind the political reality that the current Congress and the President are unambiguously pro-abortion. They fully intend to radically advance their abortion ideology domestically and internationally, and last night's vote pushed that agenda far down the road.
Abortion ideology explains why this pro-abortion Congress voted down numerous attempts by pro-life legislators to amend the healthcare overhaul bill by providing strong conscience rights for healthcare professionals and by clearly forbidding government subsidy of abortion. Abortion ideology also explains why President Obama has announced plans to rescind the only federal regulation protecting conscience rights for healthcare professionals.
The weak, cryptic and deceptive language on abortion funding and conscience rights in the just-passed bill was carefully calibrated to advance the abortion agenda while maintaining the appearance of concessions to pro-life concerns. The strategy almost backfired when a dozen pro-life Democrats saw through the deception and balked at voting for the bill.
Excerpted from "Choice, Life Groups Slam Obama Order on Abortion Funding," FOX News, March 21, 2010 -- Pro-choice and pro-life groups on Sunday strongly denounced a deal by pro-life Democrats and President Obama to ensure limits on taxpayer money for abortion services, outlined in a Senate health insurance overhaul now on the verge House approval.
Abortion rights supporters chastised the president, saying he caved on his principles by agreeing to issue an executive order that strengthens limits on abortion. Abortion opponents, on the other hand, said Obama's pending order does nothing to prohibit spending on abortion services as provided in the Senate bill.
The National Organization for Women issued a statement that it is "incensed" Obama agreed to the deal sought by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., and other lawmakers who argued that the Senate health care overhaul allowed public funding for abortions. The lawmakers had been the key votes to stopping passage of the massive government plan.
The National Right to Life Committee argued that seven objectionable pro-abortion provisions in the Senate bill are unchanged.
"The executive order promised by President Obama was issued for political effect. It changes nothing. It does not correct any of the serious pro-abortion provisions in the bill. The president cannot amend a bill by issuing an order, and the federal courts will enforce what the law says," the group said.
Opponents say an executive order does not have the force of law that legislation would provide.
"That is not the rule of law. That's the rule of man. One man can sign an executive order and one man can repeal that again, the president of the United States," said Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., appearing on "Fox News Sunday" before the deal was announced.
House Minority Leader John Boehner said an executive order "can direct members of the executive branch, it cannot direct the private sector."
Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa., added that pro-life Democrats should be alarmed by a promise coming from a politician with a 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America.
"This puts the fate of the unborn in the hands of the most pro-abortion president in history," he said.
In the end, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House determined that they had enough votes without all the pro-life Democrats and could pass the bill without making substantive changes in the legislation. The President's last-minute executive order, which changed nothing on conscience rights and changed little or nothing on abortion funding, simply provided a way for the last remaining holdout pro-life Democrats to save face and vote for the bill.
The bill needed 216 votes to pass. A few pro-life Democrats stuck to their guns and voted against the bill. If just four of their pro-life Democrat colleagues had stayed with them against the bill, it could have been defeated.
Discover how your Representative voted and hold them accountable:
The vote on the Senate Bill. This is the main bill, which passed by a vote of 219-212 with all Republicans and 34 Democrats voting no. 219 Democrats voted yes; the bill required 216 votes to pass.
The vote on the Republican Motion to Recommit. This was a good measure that would have added the pro-life Stupak-Pitts amendment to the reconciliation bill). This amendment failed by a vote of 199-232 with all Republicans and 21 Democrats voting yes.  232 Democrats voted no.
The vote on the Democrats' Reconciliation Bill. This contains changes that House Members wanted to make on the Senate bill. It passed by a vote of 220-211 with all Republicans and 33 Democrats voting no. 220 Democrats voted yes.

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