The XX Factor

Where Does Abortion Stand in the Health Care Debate?

If you’re wondering where abortion stands in the health care negotiations, Amy Sullivan has a House headcount . With the proviso that counting the votes at this stage is shooting at a moving target, I read her and think that abortion probably won’t sink Obama’s bill. Obama’s version chooses Sen. Ben Nelson’s compromise position on abortion (insurance plans that receive federal funds can cover abortion, as long as subsidies are segregated and states can opt out) over Rep. Bart Stupak’s (no abortion coverage in an insurance plan that includes any federal funding). Amy looks at the Democrats who voted for the Stupak amendment and finds:

23 Dems voted for Stupak but against the House health care bill. Forget about them in this context - abortion isn’t their dealbreaker.

17 Dems with “mixed voting records on abortion” voted for Stupak and would probably go for the Nelson compromise.

24 Dems are “solidly pro-life,” but many would probably go for Nelson anyway.

The question, of course, is how many of those 24 (or of the 17) won’t be satisfied with the Nelson proposal. Bart Stupak has said he is in this category. How many followers does he have? And how small is the margin in the House - how much does Pelosi need these votes?