WASHINGTON -- House Democratic leaders Thursday abandoned a long struggle to strike a compromise on abortion in their ranks, gambling that they can secure the support for President Barack Obama's sweeping health care legislation with showdown votes looming as early as next week.
In doing so, they are all but counting out a small but potentially decisive group whose views on abortion coverage have become the principal hang-up for Democrats fighting to achieve the biggest change in American health care in generations. Congressional leaders are hoping they can find enough support from other wavering Democrats to pass legislation that only cleared the House by five votes in an earlier incarnation.
The concession came as House Democrats attended a lengthy meeting with White House health adviser Nancy Ann DeParle, who tried to answer questions, resolve differences and calm nerves, especially for lawmakers expecting tough challenges in November. Participants said they generally embraced White House-brokered compromises on prescription drug benefits for the elderly and new taxes on generous insurance plans...