Dem Says Abortion Language a Must in Health Care Bill




Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak said he is "optimistic" that his campaign to include explicit language comndemning the use of federal funds for abortion in the House health care bill will pass the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The congressman from Michigan did however say on today's "Washington Unplugged" that the House will likley not vote on the bill before their July 31st deadline.

"I think if they do not have [the language] in there and President Obama says we are going to have a bill with nothing in there on abortion, I think it is going to backfire. I think we bring down the rule and it will be explicitly discussed in the health care plan one way or another," Stupak told Washington Unplugged's Michelle Levi after a press conference with Republican collegues on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

Stupak told CBS News that he feels confident that "a minimum of thirty nine" democrats would join him in opposing the legislation proposed by House leaders should the abortion language not be written in.

"If there is not direct language and we are denied our ammendment we will focus our attention on the rule," Stupak warned.

"I am optimistic that we will get an ammendment," in the House Energy and Commerce committee which has recessed their mark up of the health care bill in question, the congressman said. However, should the bill leave the committee without banning the use of federal money for abortions Stupak and his collegues will "demand" a house floor vote on the specific issue.

In an interview with "CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric yesterday, President Barack Obama said he did not want to "wade into" the issue of whether or not health care reform should include federal funding for abortions.

"You can't talk about health care and reproductive rights and what you are discussing reproduction policy and coverage in health care," Stupak said of President Obama's statement. "You cannot not talk about it. It is central to all of the things we have been doing," he said. (Read more about the issue and the interview here>).

Stupak admitted that the president is probably using "good political judgement to try to avoid" the issue of abortion coverage in the health care debate "but you can't."

"The president was elected to make tough decisions, just as I was elected to make tough decisions," Stupak said. "These are tough decisions, you don't run from them."

Asked if he thinks the health care bill will be brough to a vote in the House before their summer recess, a deadline set by President Obama, Stupak said he does not think the deadline will be met.

You can watch the whole interview above on today's "Washington Unplugged," along with an interview with a roundtable discussion on the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.
  • CBSNews.com

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