Pelosi’s Last Stand: Offers Executive Order on Abortion In Exchange for Health Bill Passage

Amie Newman

As the hours tick by, House Speaker Pelosi is determined to pass health reform - without added abortion restrictions but with the possibility of an executive order from President Obama restating restrictions on federal funding of abortion. Will Stupak and his anti-choice holdouts accept?

According to the Washington Post today, House Democrats are asking Obama to issue an executive order restating the federal governments’ commitment to upholding the Hyde Amendment – the amendment that prohibits federal funding from being used to pay for women’s abortions.

Somewhere between 6 and 10 anti-choice legislators, led by Bart Stupak, have been threatening to vote against the bill claiming the bill allows for federal funding for abortions.

Despite the analysis of experts, 59,000 nuns stating their support for the bill as it stands currently (a letter which went completely ignored by Stupak who cannot stoop to listening to actual religious women when it comes to women’s health and rights), editorials from the New York Times and articles from the Washington Post clarifying that the bill in fact does not open the door to federal funding for abortions and even Republicans and anti-choice legislators urging passage of the bill as is, Stupak continues his campaign.

Stupak has been calling for a separate vote to, in fact, tighten abortion restrictions in the health reform bill. With the backing of and strong lobbying from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Rep. Stupak has attempted to use health reform as a way to push a strong anti-choice agenda.

Appreciate our work?

Rewire is a non-profit independent media publication. Your tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.


Pelosi and colleagues are standing strong in their commitment to persuade Stupak and his handful of supporters that the bill’s abortion restrictions are sufficient. Not only did Pelosi reject Stupak’s request for a separate vote, she has worked on a larger campaign that would persuade Stupak to vote for the legislation as it now stands:

“The intent is obviously to express what we said all along: that we believe the language that has been included in both bills seeks to accomplish . . . that there will be no use of public funds for abortion,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said upon emerging from the meeting. Asked whether the document could win over a significant number of the holdouts, Hoyer said: “I’m hopeful.”

It seems likely, says the Washington Post, that Obama will issue an executive order or statement confirming his commitment to banning federal funding of abortion – which seems more like a toddler asking a mother or father to divvy up a cookie so exactingly right in front of them so they can see for themselves that it’s fair, than our federal representatives debating policy.

Rep. Diana DeGette (CO), a strong reproductive rights supporter in the House, has given her okay saying,

“…she would support that option, so long as Stupak’s provision is not given another vote. “That would be fine by me,” she told reporters Saturday of the executive order.”

Stupak says he wants the talks with Pelosi and the President to continue. Despite their opposition to the bill, Pelosi says she won’t let Stupak and the anti-choice legislators hold up a vote:

Pelosi remained detemined to ensure that, by the time the vote is held Sunday, she would prevail. “We’ll have the votes when we bring the bill to the floor,” she said.

Load More