Former Rep. Stupak says Obama has power to stop birth-control mandate

The former Democratic lawmaker who led the charge for tougher abortion restrictions in the healthcare reform law says President Obama's executive order gives him the authority to revisit the controversial birth-control mandate.

"You can rely upon the executive order for the authority to fix it," former Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) told Fox News on Wednesday night. "New protections prohibit discrimination in healthcare facilities and healthcare providers because of an unwillingness to provide — pay for — provide coverage of or refer for abortion. So I think we can include in there [the birth-control mandate]."

The order states that "Under the act, longstanding federal laws to protect conscience … remain intact and new protections prohibit discrimination against healthcare facilities and healthcare providers because of an unwillingness to provide, pay for, provide coverage of or refer for abortions."

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Stupak said the order should apply to contraceptives as well.

"You're destroying an embryo, you're taking a life," he said. "Therefore, I'm not in favor of that, nor [is] the Catholic Church."

Stupak went on to say he was "disappointed" with the administration's mandate.

"As you're putting together and implementing major legislation, there's going to be stumbles and fumbles along the way, and this is one," he said. "And I think it can be corrected, and I hope we can get the matter resolved short of further action by Congress or — the president should just sit down, let's work this thing out. We can do it. We've done it before, we can do it again."

Obama signed the executive order in March 2010, just hours before the House passed the Senate healthcare reform bill as part of a deal to get Stupak and other Democrats opposed to abortion rights to vote for it.

The order states that the legislation will uphold existing prohibitions on federal funding for abortion services. Republicans said it was toothless, while abortion-rights groups called it too restrictive.