Michigan Democrat Leads Effort to Strip Abortion Exemption From Health Care Bill

A Michigan Democrat is leading the charge in Congress to prevent taxpayer dollars from funding abortions and said Tuesday that he has enough bipartisan support to ensure such a provision is included in health care reform legislation.

"That's public funding. I don't care how they try to mix it up. That's public funding being used, and we just can't go there," Rep. Bart Stupak told Fox News.

Stupak says he's rounded up the support of 40 Democrats, including moderate Blue Dogs and some abortion-rights backers, to support a procedural motion to allow him to insert language known as the Hyde Amendment into the health care bill. Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has prohibited federal funds from paying for abortions except in instances of rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother.

"Some are pro-choice but feel that members should be given a choice to vote on this issue," Stupak told Fox News.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Tuesday that he spoke with Stupak last week and acknowledged that the Hyde language "may well be included."

"Stupak is part of the working group on this," Hoyer said. "He's very hopeful that something will be worked out that will accommodate the concerns that he and other representatives have."

But other Democrats expressed frustration that Stupak's campaign is becoming a thorn in the side of those trying to strike a deal on health care reform.

"It's a prominent issue that we are trying to work our way through," Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., part of the House Democratic leadership, told Fox News.

Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., a Democrat who favors a ban on late-term abortions, said "my brother Stupak has taken a strident position which I cannot accept."

"This should not be the only reason why I am opposing what would be legacy legislation," he said.

Stupak argued that he and his supporters are not trying to "sabotage" the bill.

"What we are saying is keep current law," he said.

Hoyer said the health care bill would be rolled out later this week. That would allow the House to vote on it next week, after making it available to the public for 72 hours.

"There's been small movements on both sides," Stupak told Fox News.