House Abortion Advocates Unsure How to Respond to Reid-Nelson Abortion Deal

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 21, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

House Abortion Advocates Unsure How to Respond to Reid-Nelson Abortion Deal

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 21
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — The pro-abortion activists in the House of Representatives are unsure how to respond to the deal struck between senators Harry Reid and Ben Nelson in the Senate health care bill. The deal is opposed by pro-life advocates because it does not truly ban abortion funding under the legislation.

In the Senate, top pro-abortion lawmakers like Barbara Boxer and Patty Murray applauded the language, partly out of their desire to get the pro-abortion, government-run health care bill approved.

But pro-abortion advocacy groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL panned the deal and the language — saying it is not pro-abortion enough and is offensive because women in states that opt out of paying for abortions have to purchase separate insurance riders for abortions.

Eventually, if the Senate approves its bill, a conference committee made up of House and Senate lawmakers will have to hash out a final version of the legislation for each chamber to approve. The big question is whether the abortion funding ban in the House or the pro-abortion Reid-Nelson language in the Senate will remain.

Rep. Diana DeGette, the Colorado Democrat who is the chair of the pro-abortion caucus in the House says she and her colleagues are analyzing the new Senate language.

They are huddling with pro-abortion attorneys and insurance company executives on how to proceed.

"We’re still trying to figure out what this language means," DeGette told MSNBC. "It seems at the very best incredibly cumbersome for women, and at worst unconstitutional."

"The new amendment — it’s of great concern to us because we think it might make the insurance companies just simply stop offering a legal medical procedure," DeGette added. "So that’s why we have to talk to our lawyers and some of the insurance companies to figure out what the effect would be."

Asked about whether the Senate abortion language is enough to prompt pro-abortion lawmakers to vote no on the bill itself, DeGette told MSNBC: "We really do want to have a healthcare bill; we don’t want to kill the healthcare bill over abortion. But we have said we will not agree to restrictions beyond current law."

The initial reaction from members of the pro-abortion caucus was one of cautious opposition, with DeGette and New York Democrat Louise Slaughter saying they have "serious reservations about the abortion provision included in the U.S. Senate’s health care bill."

Their language echoed pro-abortion groups: "This provision is not only offensive to people who believe in choice, but it is also possibly unconstitutional. As we have maintained throughout this process, health care reform should not be misused to take away access to health care."

"The more than 190-member Caucus will review this language carefully as we move forward on health care reform," the two said.

Rep. Lois Capps, a California Democrat who crafted so-called compromise language in the House bill that was removed with the adoption of the Stupak amendment, seemed more open to the Reid-Nelson language.

"The latest compromise is far from perfect,” she said, according to Politico, “but it will allow most middle- and low-income patients to purchase comprehensive health insurance plans, something the House bill language would prevent."

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