A Democrat opposed to abortion rights, who has led the charge against the Senate healthcare bill, softened his tone Monday, suggesting the impasse over abortion funding can be resolved.

Rep. Bart Stupak (Mich.), who has repeatedly made threats to whip votes against healthcare legislation if it even indirectly pays for abortion, told the Associated Press that he's "more optimistic" now that a deal can be reached.

"I'm more optimistic than I was a week ago," Stupak said.

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"The president says he doesn't want to expand or restrict current [abortion] law. Neither do I," Stupak added. "That's never been our position. So is there some language that we can agree on that hits both points — we don't restrict, we don't expand abortion rights? I think we can get there."

Stupak successfully added language to the House bill that prevents federal subsidies from going to any insurance plan that covers abortion. He and some other Democrats oppose the Senate bill because it would allow people to use a subsidy to purchase abortion coverage if they pay a separate monthly fee.

The Michigan Democrat has said at least 12 Democrats in the House who oppose abortion rights would vote against the Senate bill on those grounds.