Updated: 4:11 p.m.
House Democratic leaders appear to be succeeding in their push to peel off abortion-rights opponents lined up with Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) against a health care overhaul.
Stupak said those standing with him now number about six — down from the rough dozen he has claimed for weeks. That is likely enough to put the majority within striking distance of the 216 votes they need for passage.
“I don’t know if it’s enough,” Stupak said of those now backing him in demanding stricter language preventing public funding of abortion. “There’s rumors going back and forth. Last I heard they were short four and that was about an hour ago.”
Rep. Christopher Carney (D-Pa.) became the latest public defection from the Stupak coalition on Saturday when he declared he would vote for the bill. In a statement announcing his decision, Carney said the bill “continues the longstanding ban on public funding for abortion, a factor that weighed heavily on my mind in recent days.”
Stupak made the comments about his waning support after he huddled on the House floor with Democratic Reps. Kathy Dahlkemper (Pa.), Steve Driehaus (Ohio) and Marcy Kaptur (Ohio) — all undecided pending the outcome of the abortion debate — and Republican Rep. Joe Pitts (Pa.), an ally in their effort.
Stupak declined to name whom he believes he continues to have in his corner, consistent with his strategy throughout to avoid disclosing his backers.