Updated: 4:05 p.m.
Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said Saturday afternoon that he has about 225 votes for his anti-abortion amendment to the health care reform bill, more than enough to pass it, and warned the broader measure would lose votes if his proposal fails.
“There are a number of Members that will only vote for final passage if the Stupak amendment passes,— Stupak said.
Stupak’s amendment includes a permanent ban on abortion coverage for any insurance plan in the exchange paid for in part with a federal subsidy.
Pro-abortion-rights Democrats are whipping against the amendment, with some warning they will vote against a future conference report if it includes the Stupak ban.
Stupak said a compromise had been negotiated with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on the abortion issue, but it fell apart last night after Pelosi said she could not get Pro-Choice Caucus Democrats to endorse it. Stupak said the compromise would have included a permanent ban on the public insurance option providing abortion coverage. But the compromise would have had just an annual ban that would have to be renewed on the private plans offered in the new national exchange.
Stupak’s amendment is expected to be voted on later this afternoon or early evening.
The Michigan Democrat said he would likely vote for the broader bill even if his amendment is voted down.
Stupak said that weaker language proposed by Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.) and endorsed by a number of Pro-Choice Caucus Democrats had problems, including the opposition of the Catholic bishops. Ellsworth’s language would have required abortion coverage to be subcontracted to a private company so that federal checks would not directly go to pay for abortion.
Stupak also said he did not know what he would do if the bill comes back from conference without his amendment.
Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) said he was undecided whether or not he would vote for the Stupak amendment.
He said while he is in favor of abortion rights he wasn’t sure whether the bill should be involved in funding abortions.
Asked whether he had spoken to other pro-abortion-rights Republicans, Castle said, “I think a lot of people are going to vote for it at this point.—
Castle added, “I think if we felt that defeating it would help defeat the bill, I think that every Republican would vote against it.—