Former U.S. Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper of Erie, Pennsylvania, was one of six pro-life Democrats in Congress who caved in to pressure from President Barack Obama to vote for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) against their best judgment.
Now Dahlkemper, who lost her bid for reelection in 2010 in part because of her vote, says she never would have voted for the bill if she’d known the Obama administration was going to “require all private insurers, including Catholic charities and hospitals, to provide free coverage of contraception, sterilization procedures, and the ‘week-after’ pill ‘ella’ that can induce early abortions,” the Weekly Standard reports.
Dahlkemper, a Catholic, had held out for explicit language in the ObamaCare bill banning federal funding of abortion coverage. The language, known as the Stupak-Pitts amendment, had been included in the version of the bill that passed the House of Representatives in November 2009. The Senate, however, rejected similar language (called the Nelson-Hatch amendment) in its version of the bill, and it was therefore not included in the final bill which became law. To secure the votes of the concerned pro-lifers in his party, President Obama issued an executive order supposedly banning federal funding of abortion coverage under the healthcare law. Dahlkemper apparently believed the order would work as advertised — or at least would give her political cover — and voted in favor of the bill.
Of course, even at the time it was obvious that the executive order would neither ban all federal funding of abortion under ObamaCare nor have the force of law that statutory language would. Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.), one of the authors of the Stupak-Pitts amendment, noted that the law was “riddled with loopholes that allow taxpayer subsidies for coverage that includes abortion,” and the executive order did not close all the loopholes.
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Photo of Kathy Dahlkemper: AP Images