Senate May Vote Monday on Amendment to Cut Health Care Bill Abortion Funding

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 6, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate May Vote Monday on Amendment to Cut Health Care Bill Abortion Funding

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 6
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — The Senate may vote on Monday on an amendment to cut the massive abortion funding found in the Senate’s version of the government-run health care bill. With two pro-abortion Republicans expected to defect and not enough Democrats to back the amendment, it is expected to fail.

Sen. Ben Nelson, a pro-life Nebraska Democrat, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, are behind the amendment, which is very similar to the Stupak amendment the House added to its bill.

Senate leader Harry Reid announced today that the Senate will vote on the Nelson amendment on Monday.

Under the terms of the debate on amendments to the government-run legislation, all amendments need 60 votes to receive approval. As a result, most political observers do not expect the Nelson-Hatch amendment to pass.

Just three Democrats — Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Kent Conrad of North Dakota — are on record so far supporting an abortion funding ban.

Joined by most of the Republican conference, but offset by pro-abortion Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, the combined bipartisan pro-life forces do not appear to have the strength to get to enough votes for the amendment.

Should the Senate defeat the Nelson amendment, that could have implications for passage of the pro-abortion health care bill itself.

Last week, Nelson renewed his pledge to filibuster the Senate bill if Stupak-like language isn’t included.

"If Stupak-type language is not in the bill at the end of the day, I can’t support getting it off the floor," to told reporters. "That’s not negotiable. No wiggle room."

Asked how party leaders can get a bill passed without Nelson, Sen. Dick Durbin, the number two Senate Democrat, said, “that’s a good question, and we haven’t reached that point.”

Reid, Durbin and his pro-abortion allies will be working overtime to figure out how to overcome what could be a certain loss of the 60th vote needed to approve the bill.

Despite some mainstream media reports to the contrary, the Senate health care bill contains abortion funding.

The Senate health care bill contains a slightly-reworded version of the much-maligned Capps amendment, which a House committee approved on a partisan vote and which pro-life groups say is an accounting scheme to hide government-funded abortions.

"Reid has rejected the bipartisan Stupak-Pitts Amendment and has substituted completely unacceptable language that would result in coverage of abortion on demand in two big new federal government programs," National Right to Life legislative director Douglas Johnson assured previously.

"Reid seeks to cover elective abortions in two big new federal health programs, but tries to conceal that unpopular reality with layers of contrived definitions and hollow bookkeeping requirements," he continued.

Johnson notes that Reid’s bill establishes the public option and authorizes (on page 118) the Secretary of Health and Human Services to require coverage of any and all abortions throughout the public option program.

"This would be federal government funding of abortion, no matter how hard they try to disguise it," he says.

He also says the bill creates the affordability credits — new tax-supported subsidies to purchase private health plans — and that these government-funded credits can be used to purchase health insurance plans that directly pay for abortions.

The Senate, last week, also added the Mikulski amendment that could open the door to forcing every health insurance plan in the country to cover abortions.

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