Health Bill Has Biggest Abortion Funding Since Roe, Pro-Life Groups Urge No Vote

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 8, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Health Bill Has Biggest Abortion Funding Since Roe, Pro-Life Groups Urge No Vote

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 8
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — With the Senate having defeated an amendment that would have removed the massive abortion funding from the government-run health care bill, pro-life groups now say the legislation would result in the biggest expansion of taxpayer-funding of abortions since Roe v. Wade.

After Roe, during the 1970s and before the Hyde amendment was exacted, the federal government paid for as many as 300,000 abortions annually — and abortion numbers sharply declined once that funding was revoked.

With the Nelson amendment, pro-life groups say the nation would go back to those days and they say they will pull out all the stops to get the Senate to defeat the bill.

"A majority of senators today voted to keep abortion covered in the proposed federal government insurance program, and to subsidize private insurance plans that cover abortion on demand," National Right to Life legislative director Douglas Johnson told

"Now, the vote on cloture on the bill itself will become the key vote on whether to put the federal government into the abortion business," he explained. "We will oppose cloture on the bill, which would require 60 affirmative votes."

Johnson said the battle is far from over and hopes the pro-life Democrats who supported the Stupak amendment in the House will stand up for it by voting against the health care bill should it be removed in conference committee.

Both amendments would prevent the federal government insurance program (the "public option") from paying for abortion. In addition, both amendments would prevent federal subsidies from being used to purchase private health plans that cover elective abortion, but would not restrict the sale or purchase of such policies with private funds.

Charmaine Yoest , the president of Americans United for Life Action, told, “The Senate had the opportunity to follow the House’s lead in ensuring that federal dollars are not used to pay for abortions. Instead, the Senate chose to reject the Nelson-Hatch-Casey amendment and continue down the road towards unprecedented federal funding of abortion.”

And Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) told that the vote is “a callous disregard for the protection of innocent human life” that ignores “the concerns of the American people.”

“It is clear most Americans do not want abortion classified as a mandatory health care benefit. The House understood this in passing the Stupak-Pitts Amendment," he said. "Sadly, the Senate chose to ignore the concerns of the American people and refused to approve an Amendment that would have put into place much-needed pro-life protections in the Senate’s version of health care reform. Rejecting this Amendment is disappointing, but not surprising.”

He agreed the health care-abortion battle is far from over and called on Nelson and other Democrats to join Republicans in voting against the health care bill when the cloture vote comes up. has compiled other responses to the vote on the Nelson amendment:

“In rejecting the Nelson-Hatch amendment, pro-abortion Senators have broken the three decade long truce over government funding of abortion and have demonstrated they would rather have mandate federal funding for abortion than enact ‘health care reform." – Tony Perkins, Family Research Council president

Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America: "Nelson-Hatch is a reasonable amendment that does one thing: ensures federal funds are not spent on elective abortions. What the government funds, we get more of. Without this amendment, the bill will violate two of Pres. Obama’s promises: that the bill will not fund abortion and that he will work to reduce abortions. Since abortion costs less than delivery of a baby, it is not unlikely that bureaucrats, facing pressure to reduce costs, will sign off on paying for abortion but not for the health care that pregnant women and their babies need. If the bill does not explicitly bar the funding of abortion, bureaucrats and activist judges will require federal funding of this deadly procedure. If more children are aborted, who will pay for this massive government entitlement when it balloons in 20 years?”

Ashley Horne of Focus on the Family Action: “Today, the U.S. Senate failed to protect the preborn and ignored the will of the people they represent. Although 67 percent of Americans oppose the use of federal money to pay for abortion in any government-run healthcare, Senators nevertheless rejected the Hatch-Nelson amendment. Their vote would compel Americans who have moral and religious objects to abortion – and who now make up the majority of the country – to fund it. This is what Thomas Jefferson described as ‘tyrannical.’ Focus on the Family continues to oppose the health care bill because it fails to protect the most vulnerable among us – the preborn. We will keep working diligently to ensure that this faulty legislation does not pass by giving a voice to the millions of Americans who oppose the use of federal funds to pay for abortion.”

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