Ben Nelson Reviewing Compromise on Abortion Funding in Senate Health Care Bill

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

Ben Nelson Reviewing Compromise on Abortion Funding in Senate Health Care Bill

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 16
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Ben Nelson is beginning to be considered the 60th vote Senate Democrats need to stop a filibuster against the pro-abortion, government-run health care bill. His objection to the bill is over the massive abortion funding currently contained in it, and he is now examining a proposed compromise.

The current Harry Reid health care bill paves the way for considerable taxpayer funding of potentially hundreds of thousands of abortions annually through the public option and affordability credits.

Reid has a manager’s amendment with changes to the bill that will be approved before the vote on the filibuster and bill itself are taken.

Senator Nelson floated an amendment to remove the funding from the bill and, because it was defeated, he has said he would vote against the bill and for the filibuster unless changes are made to cut the abortion funding.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Bob Casey, the Pennsylvania Democrat who is the only other Democratic senator to call himself pro-life, was working on a potential compromise to keep the other 59 members of the caucus supportive of the bill but pick up Nelson’s vote.

CNN indicates Nelson has seen the proposed language and that they "look better than what’s in the bill," but he said he still has to review it and wants pro-life groups to examine the language before making a commitment.

"I don’t know at this point in time. Constituency groups haven’t responded back yet," Nelson added, according to AP

The Associated Press indicated the "compromise" involves an attempt to separate private and public funds, but that is the current approach in the Senate bill modeled after the Capps amendment that pro-life groups and Nelson himself have rejected in the past.

A Democratic aide told CNN that Reid, Casey and Nelson have been going "back and forth" today reviewing a potential compromise to win his support for the bill.

Meanwhile, the state’s pro-life Republican governor and a pro-life organization are pulling out all the stops to convince Nelson to oppose the bill.

Calling the proposal "bad news for Nebraska," Gov. Dave Heineman is urging Nelson to work to defeat the measure, according to the Omaha World-Herald.

"America’s health care system needs improvement, but this bill is not the answer," Heineman said in a letter to Nelson. "You are now the 60th vote, and as Governor of the State that we both represent, I urge you to vote against this bill and against cloture."

Meanwhile, the Nebraska Right to Life organization is in the middle of a statewide radio advertising campaign to persuade Nelson to vote against cloture and the bill.

"This is Julie Schmit-Albin of Nebraska Right to Life, thanking Ben Nelson for offering the pro-life amendment to the Senate health care bill," the group says in an ad provided to

"His action demonstrated real courage. But, the pro-life amendment was defeated and the Senate bill still authorizes government funding for abortions," the NRTL ad continues. "Call Senator Nelson today at (402)-391-3411 to thank him for his amendment, and ask him to continue to stand up against government-funded abortions by voting no on all votes to advance the Senate health care bill."

The 30-second radio spot is running in Omaha and Lincoln on Christian radio stations.

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