Senate Expected to Debate Pro-Abortion Health Care Reform Bill in Mid-October
by Steven Ertelt
October 1, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Now that a Senate committee has rejected pro-life amendments to the Baucus heath care measure to remove the abortion funding found in it, the next battle for pro-life advocates and the next step in the Senate is a full floor debate on the pro-abortion health care bills in mid-October.
As LifeNews.com reported on Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee defeated an amendment from Sen. Orrin Hatch on a 13-10 vote that would have stripped the Baucus bill of its abortion subsidies.
The other health care bill in the Senate, the measure named for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, also contains provisions that would result in sweeping pro-abortion mandates and government subsidies for abortions.
Majority Leader Harry Reid said after the committee votes yesterday that he expected the Senate to begin debating the government-run health care measures the week of October 12. The Senate had been expected to take a recess for the week of Columbus Day, but that will apparently be canceled.
"I think with health care, which is really beginning to ferment, it wouldn’t be right for us to be gone," he said, according to a Wall St. Journal report.
Between now and then, lawmakers must meld together the Kennedy and Baucus measures into one piece of legislation that will undoubtedly contain abortion funding and possible pro-life concerns over rationing of medical care for seniors.
When the full Senate debates the bill, Hatch and other pro-life senators are expected to bring up their amendments again and pro-life groups will be calling on millions of pro-life advocates to connect with their senators and urge them to support those amendments.
Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, talked about what has happened in the House and Senate committees on the bills in anticipation of abortion battles on the floor.
He said the votes in the committees, where virtually all Democrats voted against amendments to stop taxpayer funding of abortion, show President Barack Obama and his Democratic colleagues want abortion funding.
"Bills currently advancing in Congress would establish direct federal funding of elective abortion, and tax subsidies for private insurance that covers elective abortions — both drastic breaks from longstanding federal policy," he told LifeNews.com Wednesday.
"Ongoing events on Capitol Hill demonstrate the hollowness of President Obama’s public assurances that he does not seek government funding of abortion," he said.
Because of the vote against the Hatch amendment, Johnson said the combined bill the Senate will consider will definitely fund abortions, but he said pro-life advocates have a chance to urge support for the expected amendments.
"Today’s Finance Committee votes mean that the combined bill that will reach the Senate floor in a few weeks surely will contain provisions that would result in both pro-abortion federal mandates and huge federal abortion subsidies," he explained. "However, the full Senate must vote on the pro-abortion subsidies, and other pro-abortion components as well."
Johnson pointed out that most of the committee debate on the Baucus bill revolved around a proposed new program that would use tax money to help purchase private health insurance for about 19 million Americans. The bill specifically authorizes the use of these federal funds to pay premiums on private plans that cover elective abortions — a departure from longstanding federal policy.
Hatch pointed out that federal subsidies for coverage of elective abortions are not currently allowed under Medicaid, the Federal Employees Health Benefits program, or other federal health programs.
On the House side, each of the three versions of HR 3200 that House committees adopted contain abortion funding and one contains the Capps Amendment which would open the door wide for massive abortion subsidies and mandates.
There is no guarantee that House members will have a chance to vote on pro-life amendments in the same way senators can later this month.
Lawmakers sent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a letter on Monday pointing out that the health care bill approved in the House Energy and Commerce Committee (H.R. 3200), includes abortion funding.
The letter notes, among other things, that the Capps language "explicitly authorizes the federal government (the Department of Health and Human Services) to directly fund elective abortions, with federal (public) funds drawn on a federal Treasury account," through the proposed "public plan."
It calls on Pelosi to allow a vote on the Stupak amendment to stop tax-funded abortions.
ACTION: 1) Go to https://www.Senate.gov and contact your two senators to urge them to support any amendments to stop abortion funding. 2) Contact members of the House Rules Committee (see https://rules.house.gov) and urge them to allow a vote on the Stupak amendment to stop abortion funding.
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