In the News 2010
Channel News Asia

Pro-life Democrats Prepared to Derail Healthcare Legislation over Issue of Abortion

A group of pro-life Democrats in the US House of Representative have said they are prepared to derail the passage of healthcare legislation over the issue of abortion.

A dozen Democrats fear that US federal government funds will be used to pay for abortions, if Democrats go ahead with a plan to push a Senate healthcare proposal into law.

Opponents said they are holding the process of healthcare reform hostage.

The effort to reach a bipartisan healthcare compromise last week has largely fallen by the wayside, as Democrats prepare to drive towards reconciliation.

It is a process which will help them swerve around the expected Republican roadblocks.

But a group of 12 House Democrats, led by Representative Bart Stupak, said the Senate plan allows government funding of abortions.

Mr Stupak said: “The President said to the nation on September 9 there will be no federal dollars for abortion. We are holding him to his word.”

Mr Stupak has proposed an amendment to the healthcare bill which would, among other things, deny women the option of having an abortion if they buy private insurance through a proposed new government-administered insurance exchange.

Jon O’Brien, the president of the campaign group “Catholics For Choice”, said that tramples on women’s basic rights.

He said: “What they are seeking to do is to impose their personal morality on all of the people in the United States of America. What they are seeking to do is to take away the right and liberty of a woman to be able to obtain an abortion through a private health insurance arrangement. There is something downright un-American about that.”

On September 9, President Barack Obama had said: “I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last.”

As a pro-life Catholic, Representative Stupak said he is prepared to risk the failure of the Obama healthcare overhaul over an issue of conscience.

He said: “To some of us, it is a very strong principle you just can’t compromise on. Let us keep the law the way it is.”

Mr O’Brien said it is political opportunism.

He said: “They are using the weakness that is within the Democratic party to advance their extremist view of what they think is moral and ethical.”

Mr Stupak has indicated that he is prepared to sit down and discuss the issue with colleagues, but is not going to compromise on the basic principles.

Democrats who oppose tighter restrictions on abortion are now in a really tricky position because if they oppose their pro-life colleagues on this issue, they risk jeopardising landmark Democratic legislation.

This article originally appeared on Channel News Asia.

Catholics for Choice