Recent polls reveal that the majority of Americans oppose federal funding for health care plans that pay for abortions.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, released Wednesday, found that 61 percent of the public is against the use of federal money for abortions for women who can not afford the procedure. Also, 51 percent say women who get abortions should pay the full costs out of their own pocket, even if they have private health insurance and no federal funds are involved.
On Tuesday, a CBS News poll showed 56 percent of Americans think federal subsidies for health care plans should not be allowed to pay for abortions.
Both polls were conducted over the weekend with more than 1,000 adult Americans.
The debate on health care reform heated up recently when the House of Representatives passed a version of the bill early this month that included tight restrictions on the use of federal money for abortion coverage. The Stupak-Pitts amendment prohibits any coverage of abortion in the public option (government-run plan) and prohibits anyone receiving a federal subsidy from purchasing a health insurance plan that includes abortion.
The amendment sparked outrage among abortion advocates who have been pressuring lawmakers to drop the proposal from the House health care bill.
The Center for Reproductive Rights recently launched ad campaigns stating, "Don't let Congress ban abortion coverage millions of women already have." Noting some "facts," the New-York based abortion rights group says one in three women will have an abortion within her lifetime and that abortion is one of the most common surgical procedures.
Planned Parenthood, meanwhile, is collecting signatures for a petition that states, in part, "Women must be able to purchase private or public health insurance that offers comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion care."
On the other side of the debate, pro-life groups and evangelicals are urging lawmakers to retain the Stupak-Pitts language.
Bryan Fischer, director of issues analysis at the American Family Association, cautioned, "You always get more of what you subsidize. The chances are high that the number of abortions will jump by a third if the Democrats force taxpayers to fund them."
Also, on Tuesday one of America's oldest continuous associations of evangelical clergy, the Evangelical Church Alliance, passed a resolution urging members of the U.S. Congress to "give heed to the opinions of the majority of American citizens that abortion should not be funded by tax dollars either directly or indirectly."
"[W]e ... urge the United States Congress, in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, to do nothing by their acts to violate the Sanctity of Human Life as given by the Creator, acknowledged as one of the First inalienable rights by the Founders and secured by the United States Constitution."
The Senate may begin debate on its version of the health care bill as early as this week.