WASHINGTON (BP)--In news that may boost efforts by pro-lifers in Congress, two new polls show solid majorities of Americans oppose federal funding of abortion in the heath care bill.
The polls by CNN and CBS News come at a time when pro-choice legislators are attempting to kill a pro-life amendment to the health bill that passed the House.
The CNN poll found that by a 61-37 percent margin, U.S. adults oppose "using public funds for abortions when the woman cannot afford it." The CBS News poll showed by that by a 56-34 percent margin, Americans say insurance plans should not cover abortion "if the federal government provides subsidies or credits to help people buy health insurance." The CNN poll interviewed 1,014 adults Nov. 13-15, while the CBS poll involved interviews with 1,167 adults Nov. 13-16.
The pro-life health care amendment sponsored by Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak (Mich.) prevents: 1) the government-run public option from covering abortion and 2) federal subsidies given to lower-income people from paying for private insurance plans that cover abortions. Exceptions are made for abortions in the case of rape, incest and to save the mother's life. Women who want their plan to cover abortion not in those three categories can use their own money to purchase a "rider."
The Stupak amendment passed the House 240-194 with the support of 64 Democrats. It received far more support than the bill itself (220-215). Despite the bipartisan vote, the White House has indicated it opposes the Stupak language.
"The president has said repeatedly, and he said in his speech to Congress, that he doesn't believe that this bill should change the status quo as it relates to the issue of abortion," David Axelrod, a top adviser to President Obama, said on CNN Nov. 15. "... I think it's fair to say that the bill Congress passed does change the status quo."
Asked if Obama would veto the bill if the Stupak language was included, Axelrod did not answer directly.
For his part, Stupak says the amendment simply mirrors the Hyde Amendment, a yearly amendment to the Department of Health and Human Services appropriations bill that prevents Medicaid from covering abortions. Stupak also says if his amendment isn't in the health care bill, it won't make it to Obama's desk.
If the Senate passes its own version of health care reform, the Senate and House will go to a conference to work out their differences. Pro-choicers hope Democrats remove the Stupak amendment in conference.
"They're not going to take it out. If they do, health care will not move forward," Stupak told Fox News. "We won fair and square.... That's why Mr. Axelrod's not a legislator. He doesn't really know what he's talking about."
The health care bill, Stupak said, would lose "at least 10 to 15 to 20" votes in the House if his amendment is stripped.
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.
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