Nancy Pelosi Hedges on Votes on Amendments on Abortion Funding in Health Care
by Steven Ertelt
November 5, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — After three days of machinations on a fake amendment that pro-life advocates are concerned will be added to the House health care reform bill that claims to — but won’t — ban abortion funding, now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggests there may be no vote on any amendments.
LifeNews.com has focused on the new Ellsworth amendment that pro-life groups say is a fraud because it employs accounting gimmicks to make it appear taxpayer dollars won’t be used to pay for abortions.
Pelosi hinted today at her weekly press conference that there may be no vote on the Ellsworth amendment or on the authentic amendment from pro-life Rep. Bart Stupak, which would truly ban abortion funding.
"How do you know that? No. We may not have any amendments," Pelosi said, according to The Hill, when asked about the amendment from Brad Ellsworth, a pro-life congressman from Indiana who is losing favor with pro-life groups because of the sham. "That decision has not been made. You may know something I don’t know."
Liz Farrar, a spokeswoman for Ellsworth, told The Hill after Pelosi’s press conference that if he fails to allow his amendment to be included the Rule for debate on the bill (which must be voted on first and is said will likely contain the Ellsworth amendment) that he and other pro-life Democrats will vote against the Rule and the health care reform bill itself.
"We have said all along is that unless these concerns are addressed, my boss and a number of pro-life Democrats simply cannot support the current bill," she said.
Pelosi was also vague about allowing a vote on the Stupak amendment — which most pro-life advocates have ruled out based on Pelosi’s previous comments and on which the House Rules Committee will determine at a Friday meeting whether it gets consideration.
"We will make our decision of how we go forward as we write our bill. But there has been no decision about amendments per se," Pelosi said.
Pelosi also said Thursday that she thinks there are enough votes to pass the pro-abortion health care bill as is, although he comments make it appear Stupak and his coalition of 40 pro-life Democrats may be strong enough to stop it.
What is certain, for the pro-life movement, is that Stupak’s amendment bans all abortion funding while the Ellsworth amendment does not.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said today that the latest draft of the "Affordable Health Care for America Act" would authorize federal funding for elective abortion and that the Ellsworth amendment would do nothing about it.
"We are very disappointed that someone who claims to support the protection of unborn children would offer language designed to ensure the government pays for elective abortions behind smoke and mirrors," he said, according to a statement sent to LifeNews.com. "However cleverly worded the proposal might be, Rep. Ellsworth’s plan would authorize a government run public option to fund elective abortion and subsidize private plans that cover elective abortion."
Perkins explained: "The Ellsworth language creates a ruse by appearing to offer a restriction on the use of ‘federal funds’ for abortion, while leaving in place the key legal authority which says ‘nothing in the Act’ should be interpreted to ‘prevent the public health insurance option from providing for ….coverage of’ elective abortion."
"This abortion funding sham is exacerbated by additional language that requires the public option to hire contractors to ensure that money paid into the government option will be used to pay for elective abortions," Perkins continued. "Medicare contracts with private business to handle claims, but no one in their right mind would say Medicare payments are ‘private’ payments."
He said a vote on Stupak’s amendment is the only pro-life vote the House could cast.
Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, agrees with the analysis.
The Ellsworth Amendment will explicitly authorize federally funded abortions in the public option. Putting a pro-life label on the amendment doesn’t change that fact," she told LifeNews.com.
"The only way to ensure that health care reform does not mandate abortion funding and coverage is to include explicit language similar to the Hyde Amendment, such as the Stupak-Pitts Amendment," she said.
The Ellsworth proposal does not alter the provisions in H.R. 3962 that explicitly allow federal funding of abortion through the public option, and permit federal subsidies to go to private insurance plans that cover abortion Yoest explained. The Ellsworth language simply provides details for how funds will be segregated, and that they will be distributed by an independent contractor.
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