Around 40 Dems line up against federal abortion funding in healthcare bill

Approximately 40 House Democrats are prepared to block healthcare reform legislation from coming to the floor should the bill include federal subsidies for abortions, said Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) Friday.

Stupak, who is conservative on social issues, told CNS News that he has organized the voting bloc to support his amendment that would strip the abortion provisions from the legislation. House Rules Committee chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), according to Stupak, said that there is "no way" her panel would provide a vote for his amendment.

The group of 40 would join House Republicans in voting against procedural measure that would draft rules for debating the bill on the House floor. Passage of the measure is necessary for the House to hold a floor vote.

"There’s about 40 like-minded Democrats like myself -- we’ll try to take down the rule," Stupak said. “If all 40 of us vote in a bloc against the rule -- because we think the Republicans will join us -- we can defeat the rule. The magic number is 218. If we can have 218 votes against the rule, we win.”

With 177 Republicans in the House, Stupak would need at least 41 Democrats to cross the aisle and vote against the rule. Stupak's amendment was originally defeated by the House Energy and Commerce Committee during mark-up. 

Under language in the Energy and Commerce proposal, one health plan in each health care "exchange" that sells public health insurance must provide coverage for abortion. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is currently in the process of merging the House's three health bills.

“We’re just finishing our conferencing on this legislation,” Pelosi told CNS. “We haven’t even gone through the procedure as to what we’ll do on the floor, if there even are any amendments on the floor.”