Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Stupak Amendment Changes Abortion Status Quo
Press Release

RELEASE: Stupak Amendment Changes Abortion Status Quo

How Abortion Funding Would Be Affected by Health Reform Bills

November 16, 2009

By Jessica Arons

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Opponents and supporters of abortion rights agreed early on, in theory, to maintain the “status quo” with “abortion neutral” health care legislation. The idea was that health care reform is not the appropriate place to continue the fight over abortion and neither side should attempt to use health care reform as a vehicle to further expand or restrict access to abortion.

In pursuit of this objective, Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) introduced an amendment in the House Energy and Commerce Committee that attempted to strike a balance and preserve the status quo on abortion funding. This proposal was adopted and ultimately included in the original House bill. The Senate Finance Committee also passed a bill that closely mirrors the Capps Amendment’s treatment of abortion funding.

Yet abortion rights opponents refused to accept the Capps compromise and continued to lobby for further restrictions. Negotiations broke down and House Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) let Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) introduce an amendment that placed additional restrictions on abortion funding. It is not yet known if the Senate will keep the Finance Committee language or adopt a language similar to the Stupak Amendment.

This chart explains the current law on abortion funding and shows how the House and Senate bills would maintain or change the status quo.

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