Is the Stupak Amendment a 'Poison Pill?'

According to a top White House advisor, President Obama is definitely not on board with the Stupak amendment to the House Healthcare Reform bill.


In an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Obama adviser David Axelrod reiterated the president’s position on how abortion should be handled in the debate over health care reform.

“The president has said repeatedly, and he said in his speech to Congress, that he doesn’t believe that this bill should change the status quo as it relates to the issue of abortion,” Axelrod told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. “He’s going to work with the Senate and the House to try to ensure that at the end of the day the status quo is not changed.”

Asked specifically whether the Stupak amendment changed the status quo, Axelrod replied “I think it’s fair to say the bill Congress passed does change the status quo. But I believe there are discussions ongoing as to how to change it accordingly.”

One thing that's been rolling around in my head lately is that some anti-reform Blue Dogs might be using the Stupak amendment as a "poison pill" amendment -- cynically voting for the amendment, while still voting against the entire bill -- in the hopes of either killing it after it comes back for the final vote or even that the president will veto it. The Stupak amendment got 240 votes, while the bill as a whole got 220.

For his part, Axelrod wouldn't say whether inclusion of the measure would earn the final bill a veto:

King asked Axelrod whether the president would sign a final health care bill that contains the Stupak amendment. Likening it to Obama’s position on the public health insurance, Axelrod said Obama “believes both these issues and can and will be worked through before [the final bill] reaches his desk.”

Doesn't really want to paint himself in a corner. Is healthcare reform worth the price of selling out a woman's right to choose? Can't really say. But it isn't hard to imagine one of those "this is a flawed bill, but it's still an improvement" statements as it gets the president's signature.

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