A group of pro-life Democrats on Sunday said they’d vote for President Obama’s health care overhaul after the White House issued an executive order reaffirming that the health care overhaul bill would not authorize the federal funding of abortions.
The move likely gives House Democrats enough votes to pass Mr. Obama’s health care overhaul plan later on Sunday.
“We’re well past 216 [votes],” said Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, who led the group of about 10 pro-life Democrats who threatened to vote against the bill because of abortion concerns.
He said Sunday that the executive order is enough to meet their concerns. The group had been worried that the Senate bill wouldn’t do enough to prevent federal tax subsidies from covering insurance plans that cover elective abortions and that federal funds would go to community health centers without a ban on abortions.
The executive order says that nothing in the bill is meant to do more than the Hyde amendment, the existing compromise between pro-life and pro-cohice groups that bans the federal funding of abortions.
Executive orders can be easily overturned with another order, but Mr. Stupak said he trusts Mr. Obama will uphold it.
“The president didn’t sign it to rip it up tomorrow,” Mr. Stupak said.
Mr. Stupak said he’d rather have a ban written into the Senate bill, but that the complicated reconciliation process Democrats are using to pass the bill through the Senate wouldn’t allow it.
“The reality is we can’t pass it through the Senate,” he told reporters.
Republicans said the executive order would do nothing to change the bill.
The law of the land trumps any Executive Order, which can be reversed or altered at the stroke of a pen by this or any subsequent President without any congressional approval or notice,” Minority Leader John A. Boehner said in a statement. “Make no mistake, a yes vote on the Democrats health care bill is a vote for taxpayer-funded abortions.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have opposed the Senate’s bill and opposed the executive order, Mr. Stupak said. But other faith groups, including a group of more than a thousand Catholic nuns, said the Senate bill wouldn’t allow for federal funding of abortions.
In November, Mr. Stupak’s group was able to insert a last-minute amendment to the House bill that included stringent prohibitions on abortion access, against Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s wishes.