If you're extending the federal law and federal subsidies into other
areas of health care, then the current law on abortion should apply.
There is no greater restriction placed on anyone. If you have a policy
and you receive federal subsidy, and if you want to buy abortion
coverage, you can. It says very clearly: supplemental policies, you're
free to do it, you've just gotta use your own money. States do it right
now. They put up their matching share on Medicaid. They can't use their
state funds when they use the matching share, they can't take money out
of there, but they can dip into another state pot, and 11 states do
that and provide abortion coverage. That doesn't change. None of that
NPR has a site that says nothing changes, PolitiFact has a site that
says the Stupak language doesn't change anything, it's current law.
I understand it was a fight to get the vote on this amendment. What
was it like dealing with leadership on this? Did things ever get
contentious between you and the pro-life members of the Democratic
caucus and the Democratic leaders?
Well that's how we got our amendment, because Speaker Pelosi went to
present what she agreed to with us, that it would be part of a
manager's amendment. There should have never been an amendment. There
never should have been a vote on this. We had agreed to put it in a
manager's amendment, which would have been less than what I actually
got--Hyde-lite as I call it, Hyde language lite--and it was the
pro-choice people that rejected it.
They're the ones--and I've been saying all along, all I want to do is
vote on my conscience, let the will of the House work its way--they're
the ones who insisted, 'No, Stupak doesn't get to go in the manager's
amendment, we want it on the floor.' They're the ones who insisted on
bringing it to a vote. They're the ones who wanted to vote against me,
they were the ones who said they would win this vote. Now they lose,
and now they're distorting the hell out of the amendment. That's the
part that bothers most of us. They're the ones who wanted the
amendment. We had an agreement with the Speaker. They rejected it, and
then they took it to the floor and they lost, and now suddenly I'm the
So if they hadn't fought you at that stage...
If they hadn't rejected the Speaker on Friday night, to use their
words, there would have been a less restrictive amendment that would
have been part of the manager's amendment. They rejected that. They
could not live with it. Even the less restrictive language. And
therefore the Speaker came back and said, 'Bart, I'm sorry, but our
deal's off. So I have no choice, because we made an agreement, I'm
gonna have to give you an amendment,' and I said, 'Well, with all due
respect, Madame Speaker, I'm not gonna send the amendment we agreed to,
because if the deal's off, then I don't have to hold to that agreement,
Hyde-lite, and I'm putting up the original Hyde language that I offered
in committee, that Joe Pitts and I offered.' That's why it's called the
Stupak-Pitts amendment: that's the same amendment we offered July 30th
in committee. So, in a way, the pro-choice people, by rejecting the
Speaker's proposal, brought this on themselves, and then somehow now
they're blaming me. I find that rather ironic.