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Stupak: I am not trying to kill health reform; abortion still a concern

Recent news articles have reported that I am trying to “kill” healthcare reform, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Our healthcare system is broken and I believe reform is necessary. And while the issue of publicly funded abortions can be divisive, it is an important discussion that our nation must have, especially in regards to healthcare reform.

Whether public funds should be used for abortion services is exactly the sort of issue we should be debating openly on the floor of the House of Representatives.  My amendment to include Hyde language in H.R. 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, is not new or out of line with the current policies regarding federal funding for abortions. There is a strong precedent going back more than 30 years for adding Hyde language. The ban on federal funding for abortions is a long-standing American policy that has been in place since the 1970s and has been upheld by the Supreme Court.

{mosads}This amendment is not about limiting choice when it comes to abortion services. There is nothing in the amendment that prevents those who choose to obtain abortion services from doing so. The Hyde language simply says taxpayer dollars should not be used to pay for those services. Just as the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) does not provide plans that cover abortion services, nor should the plans for individuals who enter into the public option or receive federal subsidies for healthcare cover abortions. They are free to purchase a supplemental plan or pay for these services with their own money should they so choose.

The concerns of those of us who want to see Hyde language in H.R. 3200 are shared by 67 percent of Americans who oppose spending federal tax dollars on abortion services. Even many pro-choice Americans believe federal funds should not be used to provide abortion services. Yet congressional leadership has shown little interest in recognizing these concerns.

I have not made unreasonable demands. I have simply asked that there be a straight up-or-down vote on my amendment reflective of current laws. If we had a clean vote on this amendment and lost, I could accept that. My pro-life colleagues and I simply want, and deserve, a chance to vote our conscience.

I wholeheartedly believe that something must be done to reform our nation’s healthcare system. As chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, I have held numerous hearings over the past three years highlighting the need for reform in the health insurance industry. Several provisions in H.R. 3200 directly address issues that have come up in these hearings, including banning the practice of rescissions, prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions and eliminating lifetime caps on insurance coverage.

I believe we need comprehensive healthcare reform and I am excited that we are closer than we have ever been to passing a healthcare reform bill in Congress. But any reform must address legitimate concerns, including using public funding for abortions, even if party leaders disagree. I will continue to work with leadership on this issue so that we can move forward on this historic legislation.

From Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.)Washington

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