According to a source involved in the health care negotiations in Congress, Henry Waxman is telling Democratic caucus members that Bart Stupak’s deal with Nancy Pelosi is dead.  Stupak had called a press conference to announce the deal at 11am this morning, but has now canceled it.

The deal fell apart after news of the deal, and a copy of the amendment, was published on FDL last night.

FDL Action PAC has been running ads and robocalls in the districts of pro-choice members of Congress all week, targeted at likely voters who are pro-choice, urging them to contact their representatives and tell them to oppose any restriction on women’s reproductive rights in the health care bill.

The publication of the amendment triggered a flurry of activity within the pro-choice community, who  began hammering their own leadership, who in turn put pressure on members of the pro-choice caucus as well as Pelosi herself.  Although NARAL’s Nancy Keenan had not planned to oppose the measure, outrage from within her own ranks caused her to speak out.

According to the source (and with no small amount of irony), “Nancy Pelosi finally grew balls.”

Pelosi had wanted the pro-choice caucus to accept a deal whereby after the House voted to pass the health care bill with the Senate’s Nelson language, Stupak would get a stand-alone vote that could pass with the help of anti-choice Republicans.

Members of the pro-choice caucus felt that Nancy had “sold us out,” according to one member.  “She is just going along with whatever the boys in the White House tell her to do.”

As Dave Dayen notes in his whip count, even if Pelosi gets every other uncommitted vote, she still needs to crack the Stupak block to get to 216.

Of course, the White House is only being hung out to dry with their own propaganda.  The Nelson language in the Senate bill is only marginally different from the Stupak language, and would probably achieve the same effect (removing abortion coverage from all health insurance policies) in about the same time. But in an effort to pretend that they’d achieved some amazing pro-choice victory with the Nelson language, they demonized Stupak.  That appears to have emboldened him.

TNR’s Jon Cohen, who has been very tied in to the White House throughout the debate, tweets that the White House is discussing an executive order to address the situation:

Senior Dem source: Exec order on abortion rights still on the table, under discussion #hcr #healthreform

Of course, as I’ve said before, abortion would not be an issue in the “Plan B” alternative that the White House was contemplating three weeks ago, which would evidently expand existing programs — Medicaid and SCHIP.   It would cover half the people at a quarter of the price, but it would not include the politically toxic mandate that threatens to trigger nationwide opposition in the form of 2010 ballot amendments.  The only reason the controversy exists is because the White House wanted to create a whole new level of bureaucracy to facilitate money going to private insurance companies, rather than work within existing government programs that were already covered under the Hyde amendment.

If Cohen’s reporting is correct, the White House would rather circumvent Congress to appease Stupak than opt for their own “plan B” that protects women’s reproductive rights.

Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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