White House Defends Abortion-related Executive Order, Even as Obama Signs it

As President Obama officially signed the Executive Order he says buttresses new health care legislation on the issue of abortion funding, his press secretary continued to defend it.

President Obama does not regard the EO as a "worthless piece of paper," Robert Gibbs said late today.

The order, which the President signed this afternoon, was crafted to sway anti-abortion Democrats to support the President's health care overhaul. They did.

But some have attacked the EO, saying not only can the President just as easily repeal such an order as institute it, but that the order itself merely states what is already law.

Just Sunday, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer stated, "[T]he President announced that he will be issuing an executive order after the passage of the health insurance reform law that will reaffirm its consistency with long-standing restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion."

Today, Robert Gibbs is focusing on the differences between the order and what the Senate passed, "[T]he EO reiterates our belief that that the legislation maintains the status quo enshrined in current law - however it does provide enforcement that these individuals believed was needed and that the President agreed to."

During the battle over health care reform, Republicans and those anti-abortion Democrats we mentioned repeatedly asserted the bill, which became law yesterday, would allow for the federal funding of so-called "elective" abortions.