Key Pro-Life Democrat Bart Stupak Rejects Casey Abortion Funding Compromise

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 18, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Key Pro-Life Democrat Bart Stupak Rejects Casey Abortion Funding Compromise

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 18
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Another key lawmaker is rejecting the Bob Casey compromise on abortion funding in the Senate health care bill — Rep. Bart Stupak, the pro-life Democrat who led the fight against the abortion funding in the House measure. The compromise was aimed at getting Sen. Ben Nelson’s vote but he rejected it.

Stupak said the Casey proposal was a "non-starter," and he expressed confidence that he would have the votes in the House to keep abortion funding out of the bill.

Stupak said his Senate colleagues Nelson and Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Republican who helped Nelson lead the fight to stop the abortion funding in the Senate, are asking him if he will be able to defeat a bill that removes his language.

"They are holding tough and they are asking me, ‘Is the House holding tough?’" Stupak told ABC News. "Our members are holding, so we will not pass if they are putting anything but a version of our language."

"This isn’t an argument on merit. This is more an argument on their pride," Stupak said of Democrats who opposed his amendment. "They chose this fight and lost."

Stupak said he has been in touch with Nelson and has encouraged him to remain steadfast against abortion funding.

Nelson himself, in a written statement, said the Casey compromise — which focuses on allowing pro-life people to opt out of the massive government funding of abortions — is something he opposes. As a result, he will continue to oppose the bill and support a filibuster until and unless better language is added.

"The compromise adds important new initiatives addressing teen pregnancy and tax credits to help with adoptions," Nelson said.

"These are valuable improvements that will make a positive difference and promote life. But as it is, without modifications, the language concerning abortion is not sufficient," he said.

Casey tried to sweeten the pot by adding some pro-life initiatives to his abortion funding language that are a part of the Pregnant Women Support Act he has sponsored in the Senate.

But that wasn’t enough to attract Nelson, who said the abortion funding remained.

Insurance mandates would also remain under the Casey proposal, as, under the Mikulski amendment, the Obama administration would be empowered to decide to force insurance companies to cover abortions.

The Casey compromise attempt has come under fire from pro-life groups.

Dorinda Bordlee, vice president and senior counsel of Bioethics Defense Fund, told that Casey was "carrying the water for Senator Reid’s pro-abortion funding plans."

"In short, the rejected Casey proposal would have authorized the federal government to subsidize health insurance plans that cover abortion under a segregation of funds scheme, and pro-life citizens would have had to apply for conscientious objector status to opt out of the abortion coverage," she said.

Bordlee applauded Nelson for standing his ground.

"Senator Nelson is a member of Democrats for Life of America. He has voted against his party on a host of anti-life bills including federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research. Senator Nelson understood full well that the Casey proposal was contrary to the policy of the Hyde amendment," she said.

‘Senator Reid is less likely than ever to get his Christmas wish of 60 votes on healthcare. And even if Reid forces the Senators to work on Christmas Day, it is heartening to know that the U.S. Senate has one courageous Democrat who understands that abortion is not healthcare," she concluded.

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