Ben Nelson May Become the Stupak of the Senate on Abortion and Health Care

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 9, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Ben Nelson May Become the Stupak of the Senate on Abortion and Health Care

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 9
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — The Senate has never had the same percentage of pro-life Democrats as the House and the only committed pro-life advocate with the record to match his rhetoric is Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson.

His representative confirmed today that Nelson could become the Senate version of Rep. Bart Stupak — a Democrat defying his party on abortion funding.

Nelson wants to see language in the final bill unveiled by Sen. Harry Reid on the Senate floor that has the same effect as the Stupak amendment in stopping the massive abortion funding currently contained in the bill.

Otherwise, Nelson is a definite no vote on the health care bill itself and may go as far as supporting a Republican filibuster.

“Senator Nelson is strongly pro-life and was pleased the Stupak amendment passed with such strong support," his office told Politico.

"He believes that no federal money — including subsidies or tax credits — should be used to buy insurance coverage for abortion. This is a very important issue to Senator Nelson and it is highly unlikely he would support a bill that doesn’t clearly prohibit federal dollars from going to abortion," Nelson’s office added.

Nelson’s office also said he would not support anything like the phony Capps or Ellsworth amendments that purported to ban abortion funding but did not.

Senate Democrats will have to face the issue of abortion funding in health care now that the House has signed off on the Stupak amendment that removes it. The bill the Senate eventually considers that combines the Baucus and Kennedy measures includes abortion funding as did the House version.

Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid admitted on Monday to the Washington Post that the abortion funding battle is forthcoming.

"The debate in the House highlighted some of these issues that we’re going to have to face here in the Senate, and on this issue in particular, it’s something [Reid] is going to have to talk with his caucus about," Manley said.

The Senate operates with a process that is not as top-down as the House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi threatened to prevent a vote on the Stupak amendment until the last minute. As a result, pro-life lawmakers are almost guaranteed a chance to vote on amendments that, to this point, have been killed in Senate committees.

However, unlike in the House, there is less of a guarantee that a Stupak-type amendment can be added to the bill.

The Senate has pro-abortion Republicans like Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine and others who may oppose the amendment which passed with a unanimous Republican in the House.

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