Ben Nelson Refused to Allow Pro-Life Group’s Input on Abortion Funding Deal
by Steven Ertelt
December 19, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Sen Ben Nelson is earning himself the ire of the majority of Americans who are pro-life on abortion with his 11th-hour deal allowing abortion funding to remain in the Senate health care bill. In comments to LifeNews.com the head of a pro-life group reveals how he refused to allow for pro-life input.
The deal Nelson reached with Senate leader Harry Reid makes it so states must opt out of if they don’t want to force their citizens to cover abortions.
Residents of states that do not opt out of the abortion funding under the exchange will be forced to pay for abortions through government funds.
Nebraska Right to Life executive director Julie Schmit-Albin told LifeNews.com that she feels her senator betrayed her group and pro-life Nebraskans.
"Senator Nelson had a chance to ensure that the longstanding principle of the Hyde Amendment against federal funding of abortion with narrow exceptions, would be placed in the Senate healthcare legislation," she said. "He dashed any hope of that with his late-night agreement with Senators Reid, Boxer and Schumer on unacceptable language that he claimed would address pro-life concerns."
Schmit-Albin related to LifeNews.com how a phone call went between herself and Nelson and his top staffer.
"Senator Nelson and his Chief of Staff, Tim Becker, called me last night at 7:30 p.m. Central time as a matter of ‘courtesy’, to let me know that he was pitching alternative language to Democratic leadership. We spoke for about 40 minutes," she said.
"When I asked them at the outset of the conversation to include National Right to Life in the call they declined and said they were going with the language. Senator Nelson claimed that their newly-drafted concepts/language was Stupak-plus and that it would pass pro-life muster," the Nebraska pro-life leader continued.
"When I countered that we had no assurance of that because we were not allowed to review the language, I was reminded that this was merely a courtesy call, not a call for our input or approval," she said.
After defending Nelson and his pledge to oppose abortion funding, Schmit-Albin feels betrayed.
"There is no pro-life Nebraskan more devastated by Senator Nelson’s actions than myself," she said.
"I have defended his record to Nebraskans and believed that he would stand on pro-life principles as he has on numerous occasions in the past. I have had a good relationship with Senator Nelson and his staff throughout the years," she added. "I personally met with him on healthcare in July and in mid-November and have been in frequent contact with his staff over the past six weeks."
She thought Nelson would remain steadfast when he rejected another deal seen as pro-abortion.
"Just Wednesday afternoon, I was apprised of the Casey language by his staff and I urged them to strongly relay to him that we could not support it. When he rejected the Casey language we were bolstered by that action and believed he would hold firm to his commitment to vote against cloture if Stupak language was not included," she told LifeNews.com.
She noted how her group gave Nelson a sole endorsement in 2006 because of his sterling pro-life record over a pro-life Republican who had challenged him in a close race.
"It is a very sobering day for myself personally and for pro-lifers across Nebraska and the nation. Senator Nelson obliterated the hope of pro-life Americans who saw him as the last man standing between expansion of government funding of abortion and the Hyde Amendment," she concluded.
"Nebraska Right to Life follows the lead of National Right to Life in opposing the passage of healthcare legislation containing such bogus abortion language and looks forward to NRLC’s scoring of all cloture votes on the issue," she said.
With that, Nelson’s hopes of earning the group’s endorsement for re-election could be dashed.
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