Lawmakers arguing the House healthcare bill's abortion language would effectively block all insurers from covering the procedure are spouting nothing but "scare tactics," Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) stressed on Tuesday.

In an op-ed published yesterday in The New York Times, the Michigan Democrat -- who wrote and sponsored the changes -- instead insisted his work was "consistent with the Hyde amendment, which in the 33 years since its passage has done nothing to inhibit private health insurers from offering abortion coverage."


"There is no reason to believe that a continuation of this policy would suddenly create undue hardship for the insurance industry — or for those who wish to use their private insurance to pay for an abortion," Stupak wrote.

A number of Stupak's Democratic colleagues, however, surely disagree. Since the congressman's amendment cleared a floor vote and became part of his chamber's final bill, many of the Democratic Party's more liberal members have charged the Stupak rule makes it exceptionally difficult for those on the public plan to pay for abortion services.

Critics also contend the burden could fall squarely on the shoulders of low-income Americans, who would receive tax credits under both the House and Senate's healthcare bills. They, too, could not use those rebates to pay for abortion services -- but unlike some, they might not be able to afford supplemental private plans.

Many of those arguments returned to the floor on Tuesday as Senate lawmakers debated a similar abortion proposal, authored by Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.). But the chamber rejected that amendment on a 54-45 vote -- a victory for most Democrats, but a likely, forthcoming problem when the two chambers' bills must be merged.

Stupak wrote on Tuesday he remained "hopeful that the spirit of our legislation will make it into the final bill." He later added that his amendment, despite invoking the ire of a number of lawmakers, also had the support of voters, who have previously signaled to pollsters they oppose taxpayer dollars funding abortion services.

"While many accusations have been thrown around in recent months, the intent behind our amendment is simple and clear: to continue current law, which says that there should be no federal financing of abortions," he wrote.