Senate Approves Motion to Debate Health Care Bill With Massive Abortion Funding
by Steven Ertelt
November 21, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — With the bare minimum needed, Senate Democrats voted on Saturday night to begin the official debate and amendment process for a health care reform bill that allows for massive abortion funding. The measure sponsored by Senate leader Harry Reid could fund hundreds of thousands of abortions.
The vote split entirely on party lines with 60 Democrats voting to break the Republican filibuster supported by 39 party members in the Senate.
Several Democrats who may ultimately vote against the bill supported cloture to end debate on the Motion to Proceed.
They included Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, the only Democrats in the Senate who call themselves pro-life and pro-abortion Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota, who joins them in wanting a Stupak-like amendment to ban the abortion funding.
Democrats in swing states, like Arkansas’ Blanche Lincoln and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and independent Sen. Joe Lieberman — each of whom could ultimately vote against the bill — also supported cloture and the Motion to Proceed on debate. They said they hope to see the bill amended to correct some of their concerns.
But Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said the best opportunity to change the bill is to defeat it.
"The best opportunity to change the bill would be at the beginning," he said. "Denying the majority leader the vote he needs to start the bill would have empowered any Democratic senator who is truly interested in making a change, whether the change was on abortion [or other issues] … The time of maximum leverage would have been prior to tonight’s vote."
The abortion funding comes in both the public option as well as through the affordability credits.
Americans United for Life Action president Charmaine Yoest talked with LifeNews.com about the vote.
Senator Reids bill provides for an unprecedented expansion of federally-funded abortion," she said. "The majority of Americans who oppose federal funding of abortion will not stand for policies that force them into paying for abortions under the guise of health care reform.
She said the bill contains five major threats to pro-life principles.
The bill allows the HHS Secretary to require coverage of any and all abortions through the public option, creates new federally-funded subsidies for private health plans that cover abortion, and requires every insurance market to include a private plan that covers abortion, Yoest explained.
The Senate health care bill also fails to sufficiently protect health care entities from discrimination on the basis that the health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions and fails to prohibit federal funding of assisted suicide.
Yoest confirmed that the Senate bill does not contain the Stupak amendment that the House added on a lopsided bipartisan vote.
The Reid language in the new Senate health care bill is not the Stupak-Pitts language barring federal funds from going to abortion in health care. It is the opposite of the pro-life Stupak-Pitts language," she told LifeNews.com.
The representative of the Catholic bishops has also blasted the pro-abortion provisions in the bill, saying the Senate bill "is actually the worst bill we’ve seen so far on the life issues."
Other leading pro-life groups like Americans United for Life, National Right to Life, the Family Research Council and Susan B. Anthony List have come to the same conclusion about the abortion funding in the Senate bill.
Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the bishops’ conference Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, called it "completely unacceptable," adding that "to say this reflects current law is ridiculous."
Senator Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, has said he would propose an amendment similar to the Stupak amendment, to remove the abortion funding from the legislation.
The bill has also come under fire for raising taxes on special needs children and their families at a time when 90 percent of babies with disabilities are killed in abortion.
Sen. George Voinovich, an Ohio Republican, was absent from the vote but would have voted against the Moton to Proceed and the vote was not affected by his absense.
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