This week, a bipartisan group of 183 Representatives sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter requesting a vote on an amendment to prohibit government funding of abortion in healthcare reform legislation. Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) led the effort that garnered 25 Democratic and 158 Republican signatures.
Rep. Pitts statement follows:
"Members from both sides of the aisle agree that the government should not be funding abortion. This letter is a powerful call for the Speaker to allow the whole House to vote on amendment to ensure that abortion providers do not receive checks from the government.
President Obama, in his joint address to Congress, stated that his healthcare plan would not contain funding for abortion. If the Speaker wants her healthcare plan to become the one signed by the President, she should allow this bipartisan amendment to be considered."
Pitts and Stupak offered similar amendments during the House Energy and Commerce Committee consideration of H.R. 3200, the healthcare reform bill. The amendments would have prevented mandated coverage of abortion and prohibited government funding of abortion, but both were narrowly defeated.
When H.R. 3200 is brought before the House Committee on Rules, Pitts and Stupak intend to bring a single amendment to the committee to ensure that federal funds do not flow to abortion providers. While current law prevents existing government healthcare programs from covering abortion (except to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest), H.R. 3200 would represent a radical change in government treatment of the controversial practice.
The letter and a list of signers are both available at: www.house.gov/pitts/healthcare.shtml