Fake Amendment Not Banning Abortion Funding Could Lead to Health Care Bill OK
by Steven Ertelt
November 17, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — In the lead up to the vote on the Stupak amendment and the House government-run health care bill, pro-life advocates spotlighted a fake amendment. The Ellsworth amendment came up as a potential compromise to get Nancy Pelosi enough votes for the bill without banning abortion funding.
The amendment is making its return via an essay posted at the pro-abortion blog RH Reality Check by Rachel Laser — a career pro-abortion activist who now works for the influential pro-abortion "messaging" group Third Way.
The amendment is important because it could be used to ultimately get the House to approve the health care bill and get it to President Obama.
The House approved its bill only after adding the Stupak amendment, but the Senate is not expected to approve a bill that bans abortion funding. Ultimately, when the conference committee meets to work out the differences in the legislation, if abortion funding is added it would make it so the House would defeat the bill – but the Senate would likely defeat a version containing the Stupak amendment.
With a need to agree on language that could muster a majority vote in both chambers, enter the Ellsworth amendment.
The National Right to Life Committee, the Catholic bishops, and other pro-life groups have highlighted the amendment as a fraud, but the potential for adding it at the 11th hour to move the health care bill to the president is concerning enough for National Right to Life to email LifeNews.com about it and Laser’s support for it today.
"Even though there is hardly a paragraph in Laser’s piece that does not contain some substantial distortion, Laser’s initiative is not to be taken lightly, partly because she and her group have close connections with White House staff," NRLC legislative director Douglas Johnson said.
To underscore his point, Johnson refers to a new interview from Rep. Tim Ryan, an Ohio lawmaker who was once a leading pro-life Democrat but now is part of a group of mixed-record Democrats who promote compromise over principle.
Ryan told the Youngstown Business Journal in an interview that he thinks the Ellsworth amendment or something like it will eventually appear in the bill.
"At the end of the day we’re going to have a compromise that everybodys going to be able to live with and we’ll get health care reform," he said.
He said the Stupak amendment was only added because the House did not have enough time to work on the final details of the Ellsworth or some other amendment.
"I think we’ll be able to work it out," he said. "Obviously this came toward the end of passage of the House bill, so there wasn’t enough time, I think, to have some dialogue. At the end of the day, there’ll be a compromise that’ll be struck."
Under the Ellsworth amendment, the new federal government insurance program, the "public option," would still be explicitly authorized to pay for all elective abortion and the federal premium subsidies ("affordability credits") could still be used to purchase private health plans that cover elective abortion.
At the time it was introduced, Johnson said the Ellsworth amendment "will allow the new federal government insurance program, the ‘public option,’ to pay for abortion on demand."
"The pro-abortion House Democratic leadership is using Ellworth’s phony language to undercut the real pro-life amendment [from Stupak]," Johnson added. "The Ellsworth language is the legislative equivalent of putting pancake makeup on a cancer, rather than performing lifesaving surgery."
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