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Pelosi: Abortion Issue Will Not Slow Down Health Reform

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, March 5, 2010

In what some may think as "deja vu all over again," could the abortion issue overshadow many of the other issues contained in the healthcare reform legislation? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), speaking at her weekly briefing, doesn't think so.

At the current time, the debate about abortion is not there because the bill is "not about abortion," she said. "This is a bill about providing quality, affordable healthcare for all Americans. It's about bringing many more women into the healthcare loop in terms of their access to healthcare."

According to Pelosi, if leaders agrees that "there is no federally-funded abortion  . . . [and] there is no change to the access to abortion," then there is a healthcare bill that Democrats can and will pass it.

The issue came up in recent days over comments by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI). In a television interview, with Fox News on Thursday, Stupak, the lead author of the abortion-related legislation passed by the House in November, said that many House Democrats did not support the Senate version of the healthcare legislation.

Stupak indicated he was prepared to fight for tighter abortion restrictions within the reform legislation. However, he said, his intent was "not to hold up this legislation, he said. "My intent is to keep current law. Eight different pieces of legislation currently say no public funding for abortion."

"Every legislative vote is heavy lifting out here," Pelosi said. "You assume nothing ... in terms of where you were before and where people will be now."

She added, "This is not about doing healthcare reform under reconciliation. This is about doing corrections to the Senate bill under reconciliation," she explained.

The bulk of the House bill—about 75% to 80% of it—is already found in the current Senate bill.


Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at jsimmons@healthleadersmedia.com.

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