By a solid 240-194 margin, The U.S. House of Representatives on Saturday adopted an extremely important pro-life amendment that will essentially prohibit federal funding of abortion in the health care reform legislation. Folks, this is a huge deal.
This war for the pro-life community is not over. A Senate battle is ahead and so is a potential battle to strip this language out of any eventual House/Senate conference committee but nevertheless what happened on Saturday in the House will go down as a HUGE victory for pro-life Americans.
I just got off a conference call late this evening with Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council and he called it a "very significant pro-life milestone".
More reaction from both the pro-life and pro-choice side is below but let me just offer a little analysis first:
First of all, if you just heard a loud thud well that was pro-choice liberals in the House plopping down in their seats dumbfounded and frustrated as can be. Not only does their healthcare reform bill not contain a "robust" public option but it now contains this new pro-life language. This is a horrible turn of events for House liberals. You can be sure they'll be pressure on Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer to strip this language out in conference (if the bill makes it that far) but for now this vote tonight is something pro-choice liberals will lose some sleep over.
It should not be lost that the vote here was 240-194. This was not a 218-217 squeker. Far from it. This was a pretty resounding statement about where this country is at regarding abortion. Think about it. The Democratic Party controls the House and yet look at how well this pro-life vote did tonight. Remember 2006 when the Democratic Party took control of the House? Well one of the reasons for that was because the party was able to find moderate pro-life Democrats in the South and other parts of the country to increase their margin. Well those same pro-life Democrats came back tonight and had their say.
Let me also say that Nancy Pelosi really had no choice here but to allow this vote. If she didn't, the healthcare reform bill would have gone down to defeat.
Here's the reaction from some key groups and people tonight:
Rep. Bart Stupak, (D-Michigan)
“Today all members of Congress were afforded the opportunity to vote their conscience and represent the wishes of their constituents on the issue of federal funding for abortion,” Stupak said. “Passage of the Stupak Amendment does not impose a new federal abortion policy; it simply continues what has been the law of the land since 1977 and I am pleased that with the addition of this amendment the House health care reform bill will continue that policy.”
“I have long been an advocate of health care reform. My goal has always been to ensure that the voices of the majority of Americans who oppose federal funding for abortion were heard in this important debate. Now that those voices have been heard we must move forward and pass a bill that provides quality, affordable health care for all Americans. I thank Speaker Pelosi for allowing this important vote to occur and I appreciate the hard work and perseverance of my pro-life colleagues in Congress who held strong and stood with me over the past several months as we worked to find a way to allow this vote against all odds.”
Statement by House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH), House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) and House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-IN)
“We believe in the sanctity of life, and the Stupak-Pitts Amendment addresses a moral issue of the utmost concern. It will limit abortion in the United States. Because of this, while we strongly and deeply oppose the underlying bill, we decided to stand with Life and support Stupak-Pitts.
“The danger of this bill passing without critical pro-life language was too great a risk to do otherwise. Indeed, a number of Democrat supporters of Stupak-Pitts had privately indicated to many of our colleagues that all they needed for “cover” was a vote, and they would support final passage even if the amendment failed.
"To be clear, the Stupak-Pitts Amendment's passage is the right thing to do. We believe you just don’t play politics with life.
“When this bill is conferenced with the Senate, the pro-life majority in the House of Representatives must ensure that this important amendment is in the final legislation. If it does not, this same strong majority must defeat the bill.”
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins:
"This is a huge pro-life victory for women, their unborn children, and families. We applaud this House vote which prohibits the abortion industry from further profiting from taxpayers by using government funds to pay for the gruesome act of abortion. I congratulate the bipartisan coalition that for months has worked to ensure that abortion is not covered in the bill.
"Since prior to last year's election Family Research Council has been working towards true health care reform that protects life, freedom and families. We supported efforts to ensure the legislation will not be paid for by the lives of future generations. We thank Representatives Bart Stupak (D-MI), Brad Ellsworth (D-IN), Joe Pitts (R-PA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA), Dan Lipinski (D-IL), and Chris Smith (R-NJ) for standing with more than 70% of Americans who morally object to funding abortion with their hard earned dollars.
"Unfortunately, H.R. 3962 is a seriously flawed piece of legislation. The Speaker's bill still allows rationing of health care for seniors, raises health costs for families, mandates that families purchase under threat of fines and penalties, encourages counseling for assisted suicide in some states, does not offer broad conscience protections for health care workers and seeks to insert the federal government into all aspects of citizen's lives. Speaker Pelosi is using the guise of health care reform to push her version of social engineering onto American taxpayers. Additionally, the legislation would place a crushing debt on both current and future generations.
"FRC will work hard to ensure pro-life provisions remain intact as the bill goes through the legislative process, and will work tirelessly to ensure the legislation is more friendly to families than the current bill."
Americans United for Life Action President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest:
"The passage of this amendment is a victory for the pro-life Americans across this country who have flooded Congress this week with the message that abortion does not belong in health care. The bipartisan effort that led to its passage, under the leadership of Congressmen Bart Stupak and Joe Pitts, is a step toward a future where both political parties defend Life.”
“One victory however does not mean the battle is won,” Dr. Yoest continued. “We are deeply concerned by the rhetoric we heard today from Democratic leadership indicating an intention to subvert the bipartisan pro-life majority. We will remain vigilant in watching the final language of the Senate bill to ensure that pro-life protections remain in the final health care reform bill.”
Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser:
“Tonight the House of Representatives made a principled and politically sound decision to continue our nation’s longstanding policy of protecting taxpayers’ conscience in the area of abortion funding. We urge the Senate to follow suit. We will remain vigilant, and shift our efforts to the Senate to ensure that these same pro-life protections are added to the Senate bill.
“On behalf of the 280,000 members and activists of the Susan B. Anthony List who contacted Congress on this issue, I applaud all those who voted to honor the American legacy of protecting citizens’ conscience from conscription into activity to which most are morally opposed. Congress has sided with the resounding majority of citizens opposed to government funding of abortion. Supporters of government-funded abortion will now have some explaining to do back home, before voters head to the ballot box in 2010.
“If there’s one thing many members of Congress learned from Tuesday’s elections, it’s the danger of being out of step with your constituents. Votes do have consequences, and the recent tensions over health care reform should drive that message home. We will use every tool in our arsenal to ensure the folks back home know the truth about their legislator’s record.”
Center for Reproductive Rights Statement:
“Tonight’s vote in the House is a stunning assault on women’s health and rights. In a matter of hours, our elected officials have fallen hook, line and sinker for the anti-choice position, dispensing with a credible compromise on abortion and adopting a bill that would leave millions of women worse off than they already are today."
“American women demand that members of the Senate refuse the political bait which sullied the House vote and protect women’s health. Health care reform is supposed to provide affordable health care coverage to all Americans. Yet for women, this legislation gives with one hand and takes away with the other, forcing millions to buy insurance that does not meet all of their medical needs.”