White House visitor logs show that President Obama and senior members of his staff have met on at least four occasions with Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, whose organization is the nation's largest provider of abortion services and referrals.
But a spokesman for Rep. Bart Stupak, D-MI, said her boss has not spoken with Obama in more than four months. Stupak is the principal proponent in the House of Representatives of an amendment to health care reform legislation banning federal funding of abortions.
"Congressman Stupak has had a few conversations with White House officials in person and over the phone, but has not spoken with the President on this issue since a phone conversation on September 18," Michelle Begnoche, Stupak's press secretary, told the Examiner.
Begnoche said Stupak has not specifically requested a meeting with Obama.
Stupak's provision was included in the House-passed version of health care reform and it is a main sticking point in the current attempts by Obama and congressional Democrats to reconcile House and Senate versions of the legislation. The Senate version does not include a version of Stupak's amendment.
Obama's failure to reach out to Stupak is surprising since the Micigan representative may hold the decisive votes for or against final passage of the president's health care reform proposal. Stupak leads a group of about 20 House Democrats who insist on inclusion of the Stupak amendment before they will support Obamacare.
Obama and congressional leaders from both parties meet Thursday in an unprecedented White House health care reform summit. Obama posted on the White House web site today the latest version of his proposal, which he and Democratic congressional leaders have been writing in recent weeks. Republicans were not included in that process, but are expected to present their counter-proposals at the summit.
The new Obama proposal seeks to combine Obama-approved features from the Senate and House bills in a version that is to be submitted for final votes under the congressional budget reconcilliation process. That process requires only 51 votes in the Senate for passage and does not permit filibusters by opponents.
Planned Parenthood's Richards met in the White House with Obama and/or his senior aides on Jan. 20, 2009, June 6, July 7, and Oct. 28, 2009. The Jan. 20 meeting was an inaugural celebration luncheon attended by an estimated 300 people. But the other dates appear to have been working meetings, according to LifeNews.com:
"The June meeting saw 28 people gather at an event coordinated by Valerie Jarrett's White House Office of Public Engagement. Kathleen Richardson, who headed the public-relations offensive designed to woo groups to support the health care bills, coordinated the meeting. The logs don't reveal how long Richards stayed.
"The July event had Richards in a one-hour private meeting with Tina Tchen, the executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, which pro-life advocates say is promoting abortion on a worldwide level. The meeting likely included discussion of plans for Tchen to appear at a Planned Parenthood event held just two weeks later.
"The logs also show Richards met privately with Anita Dunn, the then-White House communications director, for almost an hour on October 28."
Planned Parenthood was also a major player in the March 2009 White House health care summit where Richards was a speaker. No pro-life groups were invited to participate in the event.