Mar 25, 2010
WASHINGTON - PRESIDENT Barack Obama signed an executive order on abortion on Wednesday that had won crucial votes for his healthcare bill, but disappointed women's groups that have been among his most enthusiastic supporters.
The order is intended to ensure the new healthcare law will maintain a ban on the use of federal money to pay for abortions, except in cases of rape or incest, or if the life of a woman is in danger.
The White House announced on Sunday that Mr Obama would sign the order in exchange for support for the massive healthcare overhaul bill from Democratic abortion rights opponents' in the House of Representatives. The support from the roughly dozen members of that group, led by Representative Bart Stupak, was essential to get the 216 votes necessary for the House to pass the bill.
Abortion rights advocates said they were furious about the signing, which they said gave extra weight to an anti-abortion measure known as the Hyde Amendment, but acknowledged they were unlikely to campaign against healthcare reform or most candidates who supported the bill.
While Mr Obama celebrated his signature healthcare law with two public events on Tuesday, he signed the executive order behind closed doors, at an event attended by some of the abortion opponents but closed to the press.
'We remain deeply dismayed by it. President Obama campaigned as a pro-choice candidate. He campaigned as a person, he said, who was opposed to the Hyde Amendment. This deal, with Bart Stupak, is simply unacceptable,' said Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organisation for Women. -- REUTERS
[An example of compromise. Surprisingly, it is not a compromise between Democrats and Republicans, but Liberal Democrats and Conservative Democrats. Or maybe not surprising, as a compromise between the two parties is now impossible.]