Former Democratic congressman Bart Stupak, who withheld his support from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 until President Obama provided personal assurances that the law would not be used to fund abortions, on Thursday told Newsmax that he welcomed the Supreme Court ruling upholding it.
“I was always for healthcare. My problem was that President Obama had language . . . I was convinced — that would publicly fund abortions, especially at federally qualified clinics and others,” Stupak recalled in an exclusive interview. “So that’s why we would not vote for the bill until we got some assurances that the administration would not apply such a policy.”
The Michigan Democrat at the time nearly blocked the measure unless Congress voted to rescind language widely interpreted as allowing the expenditure of public funds to pay for the abortions.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi knew that changing the language would cost the support of other Democrats, however. So she kicked the controversy directly back to President Barack Obama, who issued an executive order declaring that public funds would not be spent for abortions.
That last-minute move apparently gave Stupak the cover he needed to support the bill.
“I and a handful of other pro-life Democrats who all believed in healthcare — and wanted to vote for healthcare —could not because we had trouble with the principle of protecting the sanctity of life,” said Stupak, who now practices law after 18 years in Congress. “So that’s how I came to play a critical role in the passage of healthcare.”
He and other supporters of the measure knew even back then that the healthcare law would ultimately find its way to the Supreme Court.
“I’m very pleased with today’s Supreme Court ruling,” he explained. “We have some finality in the issue.”
He dismissed assertions by Republicans who maintain that Congress wouldn’t have been able to pass President Obama’s signature healthcare legislation had it been positioned as a tax rather than a mandate during the contentious public debate.
“Call it a tax. Call it a penalty. Call it a requirement. Call it a mandate,” Stupak insisted. “The Democrats who voted for this bill — it was only Democrats in the House and the Senate — would have still voted for it.”
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