Will Abortion Bring Down Health Care Reform?

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President Obama's last-ditch effort to pass his massive health care reform agenda does not have enough support to become law - yet.

A group of pro-life lawmakers from within his own party are threatening to vote "no" unless abortion funding is banned in the bill. With the clock ticking, Democrats are under intense pressure to act quickly on health care.

"We feel we are on the brink of making very important history relevant to the lives of the American people," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said.

What's the next step for this bill? Congressional Correspondent John Jessup has more, following this report. Click play to watch.

Pelosi said Thursday that she'll schedule a vote soon with or without Republican support - something they know they won't get. But now, Democratic party leaders are more concerned about a block within their own ranks who could put the brakes on the bill and keep it from moving forward.

"No, we're not going to vote for this bill with that kind of language in there," Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., said.

Stupak, who is part of the pro-life caucus, wants the final legislation to reflect tougher wording to restrict taxpayer money from being used to pay for abortions. If it doesn't, he warned that he and about a dozen other Democrats are prepared to take the heat for health care's defeat.

"I want to see health care, but we're not going to bypass some principles and beliefs we feel strongly about," Stupak said. "And the president - he's shown flexibility. He's put in Republican proposals. Look, let's keep current law. No public funding for abortion. Let's pass health care."

While meeting with insurance company executives at the White House, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said ultimately, this is not a debate over abortion - but about reform.

"When the bill is in its final form and people have a chance to look at it I think they'll understand that this bill does not change the status quo on abortion," Sebelius said. "That's what the president has said all along."

On wednesday, the president called on lawmakers in Congress to cast an up or down vote.

"I do not know ho this plays politically, but I know it's right," Obama said.

Now, it's up to the Democrats to scrounge for those votes.

"I feel very confident about how we go forward. But we take a new vote every time," Pelosi said. "Every legislative vote is a heavy lift around here. You assume nothing."

But Republicans are digging in their heels for a fight - aiming for for the bill go down in flames.

"This does not have to become law," Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said. "They are not there yet and this bill can be defeated. and I and my Republican colleagues will do everything we can to defeat it."

While the White House is trying to win support from rank and file Democrats on Capitol Hill, President Obama will try to drum up support among ordinary Americans. His first stops next week include campaign stops in Philadelphia and St. Louis.

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CBN News
John Jessup

John Jessup

CBN News Anchor

John Jessup serves as the main news anchor for CBN, a position he assumed after 10 years reporting for the network in Washington, D.C. His work in broadcast news has earned him several awards in reporting, producing, and coordinating elections coverage. Follow John on Twitter @JohnCBNNews and "like" him at Facebook.com/John.V.Jessup.