WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A dozen House of Representatives Democrats opposed to abortion are willing to kill President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform plan unless it satisfies their demand for language barring the procedure, Representative Bart Stupak said on Thursday.
“Yes. We’re prepared to take responsibility,” Stupak said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” when asked if he and his 11 Democratic allies were willing to accept the consequences for bringing down healthcare reform over abortion.
“Let’s face it. I want to see healthcare. But we’re not going to bypass the principles of belief that we feel strongly about,” he said.
The Michigan Democrat held up House legislation last year until he was satisfied that its language prevented federal tax dollars from being used to fund abortions.
No specific legislation has yet surfaced. Obama began a final push for reform on Wednesday, urging Congress to vote on the plan in the next few weeks even if it means passing the measure with a narrow Democratic majority and no Republican support.
The White House says it does not intend its bill to change current U.S. law on abortion, and does not believe that the Senate healthcare bill, which Obama’s plan resembles, would change the status quo.
“The president is not and will not change current federal law in dealing with abortions and healthcare,” spokesman Robert Gibbs said at his daily news briefing on Thursday.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Obama’s top adviser on health issues, said the White House was prepared to bar the use of federal money for abortion. “This will not change the status quo on the policy of abortion. There will be no federal funding for abortion,” she said on the television program.
Stupak said anti-abortion lawmakers are worried that the legislative language will follow the blueprint of the reform bill passed by the Senate, which he said does not provide sufficient safeguards.
Reporting by David Morgan, additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Philip Barbara
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