Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A day after a lavish bill signing White House ceremony on health care reform, President Obama will sign an executive order barring the law from allowing federally funded abortion, but he’ll do so behind closed doors and with no media allowed.

The executive order, which the White House said Tuesday “reaffirms the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Acts consistency with longstanding restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion,” was crucial to securing the votes of at least 10 pro-life Democrats.

Led by Rep. Bart Stupak, the group threatened to vote against the bill — which passed by a seven-vote margin, 219-212. In furious last-minute negotiations, the White House offered the executive order as a compromise, and with just hours to go before the vote, the group abandoned its opposition.

The order bans the federal government from using taxpayer money for abortions offered through insurance exchanges created under the new law. Critics feared that community health centers would be allowed to accept federal money for abortions.

On Wednesday, Mr. Stupak and 12 House Democrats will attend the subdued ceremony, along with Sen. Bob Casey, who helped draft compromise language.

At least according to the White House: Not even a photographer will be allowed into the Oval Office to capture the moment.

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