An Executive Order dealing with restrictions on federal funds for abortion signed after passage of health care overhaul legislation by President Barack Obama was enough to secure the last minute votes of several pro-life Democratic lawmakers Sunday afternoon.
The legislators, led by Rep Bart Stupak (D-MI), said that the pending order was enough to convince them that they were able to in the words of Congressman Stupak, “protect the sanctity of life in the health care reform bill.”
Members on the other side of the aisle did not share that assessment. “From a pro-life perspective, I see no comfort in this executive order,” bemoaned Rep Joe Pitts (R-PA). Republican lawmakers noted that an executive order does not trump statutory language, and can be repealed at any time by the President.
Stupak countered that obligation by saying that he too would like statutory language on abortion, but due to the makeup of the Senate, it would not be possible. “We can’t get it passed in the Senate. We cannot get more than 45 pro-life votes in the Senate.” Thus, Stupak said he would take an executive order now and work towards statutory language in the future.