The House version of Obamacare, HR 3962, passed the House 220-215 but not before it approved 240-194 the Stupak-Pitts pro-life amendment.
The House leadership was forced to allow a vote of the amendment, sponsored by Representatives Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Joe Pitts (R-PA), as the price for getting the bill passed. A significant number of pro-life Democrats, who voted for HR 3962 with the Stupak-Pitts Amendment in it, apparently would have voted against it in its original form, which provided for federal funding of elective abortions.
According to the National Right to Life Committee (NRTLC), the Stupak-Pitts Amendment would:
(1) prohibit the new federal government insurance program, the "public option," from paying for abortion, except to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest; and
(2) prohibit the use of the new federal premium subsidies ("affordability credits") to purchase private insurance plans that cover abortion (except to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest).
"The Stupak-Pitts Amendment explicitly allows private insurance companies to sell insurance policies that cover abortion (either abortion alone, or abortion coverage along with other coverage) to persons who pay for such policies entirely with their personal funds. Some pro-abortion groups have claimed that the Stupak-Pitts amendment would prohibit private companies from selling abortion coverage even to a person who receives no government subsidy, but this is false."
However, NRTLC points out the House-passed bill still contains dangerous provisions encouraging euthanasia for the elderly.
The Senate will not even consider the House version of Obamacare and instead will debate its own version, which contains federal funding for abortion but not encouragement of euthanasia for seniors.
Because of the "public option" in the Senate version of Obamacare, it is doubtful that there is enough support for it to overcome a filibuster. If the Senate does pass a bill, there will be a joint conference committee with the House to try to work out the differences between the two versions.
The Hill reports that Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fl), the House chief Democratic deputy whip, said that she and other pro-abortion lawmakers would work to strip the Stupak-Pitts Amendment in the conference committee.
"I am confident that when it comes back from the conference committee that that language won't be there," she said.
In another article, The Hill states that Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) may offer an amendment similar to Stupak-Pitts. If it were adopted in the Senate, it would make the provision's removal more unlikely during the conference process.
If the Stupak-Pitts amendment is removed from the Obamacare bill or diluted, it is possible a significant number of pro-life Democrats would vote against the bill on final passage. Stupak has warned pro-abortion liberals that they are "playing with fire."
The other side of the coin is that pro-abortion Democrats have threatened to vote against final passage of Obamacare if it contains the pro-life amendment.
Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO), co-chairwoman of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, circulated a letter with the signatures of 40 House members who pledged to vote against the conference report if it prohibits federal funding of abortion.
The outcome of the pro-life amendment, as well as the overall Obamacare bill, remains in doubt.