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Pelosi Likely to Allow Vote on Phony Abortion Compromise Ellsworth Amendment (Update)

9:55 AM, Nov 5, 2009 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Speaker Nancy Pelosi has denied Rep. Bart Stupak (D, Mich.) an up-or-down vote on an amendment to prevent federal funding of elective abortions through the health care bill. Stupak's amendment reads:

No funds authorized or appropriated by this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) may be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion, except in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, or unless the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.

While the Stupak amendment would ban federal funding of elective abortions, it would allow people to purchase a separate rider to cover elective abortions.

Without the Stupak Amendment, H.R. 3962 would allow federal funding of all elective abortions for those on the public health insurance plan as well as those purchasing federally subsidized plans. Pelosi will likely allow a vote on phony compromise language introduced by Indiana Democrat Brad Ellsworth in order to give cover to pro-life Democrats to vote for the bill. The Ellsworth Amendment would still allow federal funding for all elective abortions for those on the public plan and federally subsidized plans, but it would require private contractors to handle the money. It reads:

(1) IN GENERAL.-The Secretary shall enter into contracts with private entities, such as administrative contractors described in section 1874A of the Social Security Act, for the purpose of claims processing and other administrative functions (which may include functions described in subsection (a)(4) of such section) with respect to the public health insurance option. Such contracts may be entered into in the same manner as the Secretary enters into contracts under subsection (a)(1) of such section.

Subject to paragraph (2), the Secretary has the same authority with respect to the public health insurance option as the Secretary has under subsections (a)(1) and (b) of such section with respect to title XVIII of such Act. Contracts under this subsection shall not involve the transfer of insurance risk to such entity.

Using private contractors hired by the federal government to handle the money does nothing to keep federal dollars from funding abortions. Imagine if a Republican were to say that "harsh interrogations" performed by Blackwater weren't federally funded since Blackwater is a private company. Everyone would, rightfully, laugh at that absurd claim.

Pelosi has claimed that abortion is already "out of the health care bill", but that's just not true. President Obama pledged that "no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions" through the health-care bill. So why won't Obama back the Stupak Amendment to do that?

Update 11:15a.m.: At a press conference that just concluded Speaker Pelosi said that no decisions have been made on what amendments will be allowed, but she sang Ellsworth's praises and seems likely to allow a vote on his amendment.

Clarification: The Ellsworth amendment may not get an up-or-down vote; it may be included by the Rules Committee in the final bill. An Ellsworth spokesman emails: "There are two possibilities I have heard discussed. It could be allowed as a stand-alone amendment on the floor, or it could be incorporated as self-executing language in the Rule. In other words, when the Rule passes, the amendment language is automatically adopted and does not require a separate vote."