Nelson-Reid Abortion Compromise Doesn’t Ban Abortion Funding in Health Care Bill
by Steven Ertelt
December 19, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Senator Ben Nelson announced today that he will become the crucial 60th vote that Democrats need to pass a government-run health care bill. Nelson has been holding out because of the massive abortion funding in the bill, but said today he will give the measure his support.
Nelson outlined his support for the government-run health care bill in a press conference Saturday morning after he reached a deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on abortion and other unrelated issues.
Under the compromise, Nelson said it prohibits abortion funding in a way that earns his vote.
"We have an agreement that the plan with not use federal dollars to fund abortions," he said. "I believe we have accomplished that goal. It’s clear I wouldn’t have voted for this bill without these conditions."
The compromise Nelson agreed to with Reid makes it so states could disallow abortion coverage in the new health insurance exchanges.
Nelson explained that women using government subsidies to purchase health insurance who want to purchase abortions in the states that opt out of the coverage would have to make a separate payment to pay for the abortion. She would pay one payment to the insurer to pay for the policy and a separate payment to pay for abortion coverage.
That would appear to be a far cry from the authentic abortion funding ban pro-life groups sought as states would also be able to cover abortions under the exchange and thereby force taxpayers in those states to pay for abortions under the system.
The deal also appears to fall short of the amendment Nelson sponsored with Republicans to ban abortion funding and it doesn’t gel with his prior statements that he would not support a government-run health care bill without a true abortion funding ban.
Family Research Council’s Tom McClusky said in response to the new compromise that "Reid’s bill would force taxpayers to pay for abortions even if they opt out."
Essentially, the language of the Stupak and Nelson amendments is not included in the final amendment Reid is offering that Nelson agreed to, but it relies on a "segregation of funds" model that pro-life groups have previously rejected.
The Nelson-Reid deal also doesn’t appear to address other major abortion and pro-life problems with the bill such as rationing and the promotion of assisted suicide.
Nelson said he would not vote for the bill without the provisions he and Reid agreed to and promised to voted against a final bill that emerges from the conference committee if the abortion funding provisions are removed.
"This cloture vote is based on a full understanding that there will be a limited conference between the Senate and House," he said. "I reserve the right to vote against the next cloture vote if there are material changes to this agreement in the conference report."
Nelson also said that the abortion compromise as presented in the manager’s amendment Reid is offering today would include conscience clause language for pro-life medical workers, funding for programs and services to help pregnant women who are carrying to term, and an increase in the adoption credits.
Leading pro-abortion lawmakers have already hailed the compromise and say they can support it — giving a clear indication that the Nelson-Reid language does not meet the approval of pro-life advocates.
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans have already analyzed the language and say there is a concern that it will enable abortion funding on Indian reservations.
Because the Nelson-Reid compromise has different language than the Stupak amendment in the House bill, the House and Senate will have to agree to a final wording that will either remove the authentic Stupak abortion funding ban or leave in the compromise.
Rep. Stupak has already said he has enough votes in the House to defeat the bill if the abortion funding ban is removed.
Nelson negotiated the deal with Reid along with pro-abortion Sen. Charles Schumer of New York and members of the administration of pro-abortion President Barack Obama. Reid also shuffled back and forther between his office and that of pro-abortion Sen. Barbara Boxer, who also participated n the negotiations and hailed the final product.
Reports indicate Reid told Boxer, "It’s done" after striking the deal with Reid and the two exchanged in an embrace knowing they had 60 votes for the pro-abortion health care bill.
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