WASHINGTON, March 22 (UPI) -- Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, said he yelled "baby killer" as Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., spoke during the healthcare debate but in a different context.
Neugebauer said Monday he apologized to Stupak and colleagues for the remark, The Washington Post reported.
"Last night was the climax of weeks and months of debate on a health-care bill that my constituents fear and do not support. In the heat and emotion of the debate, I exclaimed the phrase 'It's a baby killer' in reference to the agreement reached by the Democratic leadership," he said in a statement. "While I remain heartbroken over the passage of this bill and the tragic consequences it will have for the unborn, I deeply regret that my actions were mistakenly interpreted as a direct reference to Congressman Stupak himself."
Several representatives shouted down Stupak, who sought restrictive language concerning federal funding of abortions, as he spoke from the floor against a Republican motion Sunday after the bill was passed.
As the speaker was asking that order be restored, someone yelled "baby killer," followed by another person shouting, "Who said that?"
Stupak led a group of anti-abortion Democrats who said they couldn't support the bill because they maintained it would allow federal funding for abortions beyond the existing limits of cases of rape, incest or if the mother's life is in danger, threatening the bill's chances of passage in the House. Stupak voted for the healthcare bill after talks with White House officials and word from President Barack Obama Sunday that he would issue an executive order to ensure existing limits on federal funding of abortion would remain intact.
Saying the House chamber was a place of decorum and respect, the Texas Republican said, "The timing and tone of my comment last night was inappropriate."
The House passed the health reform bill 219-212. Because it was passed by the Senate in December, the measure goes to Obama for his signature. A separate compromise package of fixes also passed the House, 220-211, and goes to the Senate for consideration.
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