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Waxman Confronts Stupak Over Abortion Comments

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said Monday that he confronted Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) about comments Stupak made on a radio program about Waxman wanting to fund abortions.

“I’ve been talking a lot to Bart Stupak,” Waxman said. “I thought he mischaracterized my position last week. He was inaccurate.”

Stupak told WKQS-FM that Waxman told him Democratic leaders intend to fund abortions through the health care bill after Stupak offered language he said would maintain current law banning abortion funding.

“I gave him the language. He came back a little while later and said, ‘But we want to pay for abortions,'” Stupak said.

Waxman said Monday that the difference in position isn’t whether the federal government should subsidize abortion but whether people ought to be able to buy abortion insurance with their own money.

Waxman said he talked to Stupak about the comments and Stupak told him he wasn’t referring to Waxman but to other members of leadership.

Waxman said the reconciliation process limits what can be changed on abortion and said he still thinks the issue could be subject to a vote in the years before the health insurance exchanges are created in 2014.

“I thought that was a way out, but I haven’t seen any interest,” Waxman said.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also said Monday that she wasn’t considering offering future votes on the issue in return for votes for the health package.

“If the Speaker has ruled it out, the Speaker has ruled it out,” Waxman said.

Waxman maintained that the bill is not about abortion, and he is continuing to talk to Stupak and other Members.

“If they bring the bill down, they aren’t stopping abortions, they are stopping millions of people from getting health insurance,” Waxman said.

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