Pro-Life Groups: Casey’s Abortion-Health Care Compromise for Nelson No Good

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 16, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Groups: Casey’s Abortion-Health Care Compromise for Nelson No Good

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 16
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Pro-life organizations say the so-called "compromise" that Sen. Bob Casey presented late Wednesday to Sen. Ben Nelson to get him to vote for the pro-abortion government-run health care bill is no good. The National Right to Life Committee says the language keeps abortion funding in the bill.

As has reported, Nelson is quickly becoming one of the few remaining linchpins for the health care bill.

The sponsor of an amendment to gut the abortion funding under the legislation, Nelson said he would support the filibuster of the bill if the abortion funding is not removed.

Attempting to find a compromise that satisfies pro-abortion lawmakers and Nelson alike, Casey emerged as a key negotiator and delivered preliminary language to Nelson that he, in turn, passed on to pro-life groups to review.

The verdict is in and National Right to Life legislative director Douglas Johnson says the language is "unacceptable."

"This is far cry from the Stupak Amendment," Johnson said in an email delivered to news outlets.

"This proposal would break from the long-established principles of the Hyde Amendment by providing federal subsidies for health plans that cover abortion on demand. This is entirely unacceptable," he added.

The proposal apparently has an opt-out clause that would allow taxpayers who object to their premiums and tax money used to pay for abortions to leave the program.

"It is particularly offensive that the proposal apparently would make it the default position for the federal government to subsidize plans that cover abortion on demand, and then permit individual citizens to apply for conscientious objector status," he said.

"This is an exercise is cosmetics — like putting lipstick on a legislative warthog," Johnson concluded.

Staff for Nelson and Casey say the process of drafting the language is ongoing, though the condemnation from National Right to Life might make its drafters go back to the drawing board.

Nebraska Right to Life Executive Director Julie Schmit-Albin also commented on the proposal and said her analysis of it is that it does not meet the standards of a true abortion funding ban.

“From what we know, without seeing the actual language, it in no way resembles the Stupak language and still allows federal subsidies for plans that cover abortion on demand, which is entirely unacceptable for Nebraska Right to Life and thousands of Nebraskans who oppose public funding of elective abortion,” Schmit-Albin said.

Schmit-Albin also criticized the opt-out clause.

“The federal government would treat abortion on demand as if it was really health care, and then allow people to apply for status as conscientious objectors? Give me a break," she added, according to the Omaha World-Herald.

The proposal also drew a response from Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council.

Perkins described the abortion language as "a mandate for taxpayers to fund the procedure."

He told the Casey language "looks a lot like the other failed amendments that shuffle money around but still use taxpayer dollars to fund abortion."

"Senate leaders have a long way to go before they reach a similar truce on life–particularly since Sen. Casey isn’t working with pro-life groups to draw up a deal," he said.

Casey himself admitted to Congressional Quarterly. there is still a ways to go and that the language may not be enough to get Nelson on board.

"It may work," he said, "It may not. I don’t know."

Also, Rep. Bart Stupak, who authored the abortion funding ban in the House, told CQ he told Casey that he and his colleagues would not settle for anything less than true abortion funding ban.

"I [told Casey], ‘Don’t go there. I think it’s a non-starter for us," he said of the current proposal.

Perkins concluded: "It’s also a non-starter for groups like FRC, who refuse to accept anything less than the Stupak standard. This bill plenty of problems, but chief among them is that it will end lives — not improve them."

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