The Health Reform Abortion Debate

Both sides laid out their case for us.


By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

If the healthcare push is neverending, it seems like the abortion part of it is deja vu over and over and over again. Today's Washington Post notes that once again that issue will play a pivotal role in whether the House passes President Obama's health reform bill (and thus whether it becomes law). One of the biggest problems is that neither pro-life forces, led by Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak, nor pro-choice lawmakers think much of the language about abortion funding in the Senate version of the bill. Stupak and his crowd argue that it would open the door for taxpayers to fund abortions; the pro-choicers fear that by forcing people to pay a separate premium for abortions, it will end up diminishing the choices available to women.

But it is at this point a take it or leave it proposition: It seems unlikely that new abortion language will be included in a sidecar package of changes that each chamber will try to pass under reconciliation rules. Stupak seems inflexible on the issue, and he could pull enough Democrats to sink the bill.

Back in December, we asked Stupak and California Democratic Rep. Lois Capps, who is pro-choice, to debate this issue. Stupak argued that the tough language he got into the House version of the bill was merely an extension of existing law. Capps made the case that the Stupak amendment went further than current policy. Check them out.

  • Check out our roundup of political cartoons on the healthcare debate.
  • Become a political insider: Subscribe to U.S. News Weekly, our digital magazine. 
  • Listen to Cheryl Dorsey's podcast on leadership in the next decade.