updated 3/21/2010 4:17:20 PM ET 2010-03-21T20:17:20

President Barack Obama has announced plans to issue an executive order assuring that health care overhaul legislation would not change the restrictions barring federal money for abortion.

White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said the order provides safeguards to ensure that the status quo is "upheld and enforced." Long-standing federal policy bars U.S. aid for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or when the mother's life is in danger.

The order is designed to help assure the passage of Obama's massive health care bill by winning support from a bloc of anti-abortion lawmakers.

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