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House Members Raise Concerns Over Abortion Funding in Health Reform Bill

A coalition of pro-life groups, accompanied by several House Republicans outside the U.S. Capitol, delivered a petition signed by 137,000 Americans Wednesday voicing disapproval with current health care reform legislation. 

The petitions sent a strong message that "the American people cherish the sanctity of life… the American people don't want federal money used to violate their morals," said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind.

Pro-life groups argue the current health care legislation grinding its way through Congress will allow taxpayer dollars to be used to fund abortions. Specifically, they point to a provision in the House Energy and Commerce Committee bill that provides government subsidies to pay for premiums for private insurance policies that include elective abortion coverage. This subsidy, which is supposed to help with insurance costs, will have the unintended consequence of funding abortions, they say. 

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., says that is unacceptable.

"It's not health care and it should be excluded from the bill," he said.

Reps. Joe Pitts, R-Pa., and Bart Stupak, D-Pa., are trying to get Congress to attach an amendment to the current health care legislation that would prohibit public funding for abortion procedures. 

A similar measure, the Hyde Amendment, prevents programs funded by the Health and Human Services Appropriations bill from financing abortions. While the amendment offered by Pitts and Stupak was defeated in committee, the two lawmakers hope to bring it up again when the final bill reaches the floor of the House.