Pro-Life Democrats Group Says Nelson, Casey Still Support Abortion Funding Ban
by Steven Ertelt
November 18, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Several mainstream media web sites in the last 48 hours have suggested that Sens. Ben Nelson and Bob Casey, the only Democrats in the Senate to call themselves pro-life, are backing down on supporting a ban on taxpayer funding of abortions such as the Stupak amendment.
Today, a leader of a national organization for pro-life Democrats says their suggestions that Nelson and Casey will compromise are wrong.
As LifeNews.com noted on Tuesday, CNN claimed Nelson, a Nebraska lawmaker, "now says he would be satisfied with the less restrictive language approved by the Senate Finance Committee."
That report appeared to contradict a LifeNews.com story with a comment from Nelson saying, I feel that something like the Stupak amendment should be included in the Senate version," and other language from his office saying he wants abortion funding banned.
Democrats for Life of America president Kristen Day emailed LifeNews.com today to say the CNN story is wrong.
"The Senators position has not changed. He is still committed to removing abortion funding from health care," she said. "He will be a big help in removing the abortion funding."
Later today, Nelson issued comments that made it appear he will not support a filibuster of the health care bill, even if an amendment is added to ban abortion funding.
Nelson told the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper he would oppose a filibuster of the bill because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would "most likely" use a budget reconciliation process to get the bill approved on a majority vote if he can’t get 60 to stop the filibuster.
"Reconciliation means the worst case happens, the worst language," Nelson said, saying concerns about abortion funding would be dismissed at that point.
Nelson also indicated he would likely not support a filibuster on the motion to proceed, which will take place likely on Friday or Saturday, because he wouldn’t get an opportunity to change the bill if the entire debate is canceled.
"There’s no opportunity to amend (if) you oppose the motion to proceed," he said.
Nelson also disputed that such a vote would stop the pro-abortion health care bill.
"If the three of us voted against the cloture motion," Nelson said, "we don’t stop health care reform." He said reconciliation could be used then, too.
Meanwhile, Day also indicated "Senator Caseys position has not changed either."
Casey was a solid yes vote on an amendment in committee supported by pro-life groups to axe the abortion funding from that version of the Senate health care bill.
But his office released a statement that appears to go along with comments from President Barack Obama saying that the Stupak amendment goes too far in banning abortion funds, even though the analysis is off base.
"Senator Casey thinks that health care reform should not be used to change longstanding policies regarding federal financing of abortion which has been in place since 1976," spokesman Larry Smar said.
"He voted for amendments in the HELP Committee that would maintain neutrality on abortion. Until Senate bill language is released it is premature to discuss next steps," he added.
The amendment Casey supported mirrors the Stupak language by banning abortion funding.
Yesterday, Casey spoke on the expected abortion debate and said he did not want to draw lines in the sand.
"I think its important we get a good strong health-care bill done this year, but I think we can get a bill done that keeps public dollars out of paying for abortion, Casey said. There is still some work to be done on that, even in the light of what the House did The Senate is a different place; there are different dynamics.
Today, Casey’s director of communications released a statement suggesting Casey is fully on board with a Stupak-style amendment to ban virtually all abortion funding from the Senate health care bill.
"The suggestion that Senator Casey thinks that there is no room for a Senate amendment like the Stupak Amendment that passed the House is incorrect and does not reflect his position," it said.
"He voted in the HELP Committee for an amendment very similar to the Stupak amendment. His position has not changed since that vote," the statement continued.
Related web sites:
Democrats For Life of America – https://www.democratsforlife.org
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