This article originally appeard online at WSJ.com on December 8, 2010.
Abortion Opponent to Head Key Health Panel in House
By: Patrick O’Connor
Social conservatives weren’t able to deny Rep. Fred Upton (R., Mich.) the chairmanship of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, but they did get a key ally on the subcommittee that oversees health care: Rep. Joe Pitts (R., Pa.).
Rep. Pitts was named chairman of the health panel, giving the fervent abortion opponent a key role in any move to repeal the president’s health care bill.
Mr. Pitts helped write a controversial ban that prohibited recipients of federal subsidies from purchasing insurance that covered elective abortions. The language was eventually stripped from the final bill and replaced with an executive order from President Barack Obama.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, applauded his appointment, calling Mr. Pitts a “pro-life champion.” She said the health subcommittee is a staging ground for any legislation to upend the health care bill, particularly its language on abortion.
“Congress has been sent clear marching orders from the American people to defund abortion now,” Dannenfelser said, adding the Pitts appointment is “an encouraging start.”