The House on Sunday voted to pass a health care reform bill that pro-life groups say is the biggest expansion of abortion funding since Roe v. Wade.
Despite a last-minute deal between Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and President Obama who promised to issue an executive order making clear that no federal money would pay for abortions, some Christians and conservative groups say they are not "fooled."
"[A] flimsy promise of an executive order from the President may make it more comfortable for 'pro-life' Democrats like Rep. Bart Stupak to vote for the bill, but in the end, such an illusory promise is not even worth the paper on which it's written," said Concerned Women for America CEO Penny Nance.
The House voted 219-212 on legislation – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – that is considered the biggest transformation of the U.S. health system in decades. The $940 billion bill would extend coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans and ban insurance company practices such as denying coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions.
President Obama hailed the House's approval stating, "This is what change looks like."
"We proved that this government – a government of the people and by the people – still works for the people," he said.
But pro-life groups say Congress has ignored the American people and are disappointed in the group of Democrats, including Stupak, who had stood firmly to keep abortion-funding out of health care reform.
"Some Democratic Members who have had good pro-life records in the past turned away from those principles today, instead putting their trust in the most pro-abortion President in history and his equally pro-abortion Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius," stated Family Research Council Action President Tony Perkins.
Stupak gave his vote of approval for the legislation after he was assured of an executive order that would reaffirm the Hyde Amendment, which has prevented the use of any federal funds for abortion coverage since 1976 (except in the cases of rape, incest, or danger to the physical health of the mother).
He commented, "I have said from the start I would not vote for health care reform without adequate protections in place to make sure the current law of no federal funding for abortion is maintained. The president's executive order upholds the principle that federal funds should not be used to subsidize abortion coverage."
But opponents of the legislation say an executive order falls short and can be rescinded.
A legal team at Americans United for Life Action concluded that an executive order "is not an adequate fix to mitigate this legislation's establishment of taxpayer-funded abortion."
"An executive order, for example, cannot prevent insurance companies that pay for abortions in the exchanges from receiving federal subsidies," said Dr. Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of AUL.
Yoest has vowed to begin an aggressive, state-by-state campaign to help states opt out of subsidizing plans that cover abortions through their exchanges. AUL will also attempt to litigate the matter in the courts.
President Obama is expected to sign the health care bill Tuesday at the earliest.