Ben Nelson Faces Pro-Life Rally, Backlash After Abortion-Health Care Sellout

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

Ben Nelson Faces Pro-Life Rally, Backlash After Abortion-Health Care Sellout

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 21
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska faces a significant backlash after compromising his pro-life views on abortion by proposing language in the Senate health care bill that funds abortions and saying he would vote for the pro-abortion health care bill.

Since his announcement, pro-life groups have come down hard on Nelson saying his compromise just allows more abortion funding.

“I couldn’t create the opportunity to be the 60th vote. It happened,” Nelson said on CNN on Sunday. “If you think it’s fun having both sides on an issue mad at you when you’re trying to do something in good faith, just think, it’s like going home and getting bit by the family dog. So – who enjoys that?”

Nelson defended his abortion funding decision by saying even more abortion funding would be allowed had he not struck a deal with Senate leader Harry Reid. Nelson said Reid could have used the reconciliation process to bring up a bill that was even worse to get around his opposition preventing Reid from getting 60 votes.

“Then you wouldn’t have gotten what’s in the bill right now,” Nelson said on CNN. Nelson added that

“The high intensity here is as harsh and as unforgiving and unrelenting as I have ever seen it in my nine years," he said about the response he faced.

He added: “I’m an independent-minded sort of person. And I think that’s demonstrated. I don’t take my marching orders from a party or a group or any other entity. And, as in this case, I put together what I thought was appropriate, and I’m sorry that both sides didn’t enjoy it. And that’s the way it works. I’m an independent type of person. I’m not a lone eagle. I do consult. I do get input. But at the end of the day, I make my own decision about what to do.”

Nelson also said he could still oppose the bill if it is made worse in conference committee.

That didn’t stop about 2,000 pro-life people from rallying in Omaha over the weekend.
There, former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee joined pro-life advocates to condemn Nelson’s "sellout" of the pro-life perspective on the massive abortion funding in the health care bill.

Huckabee compared Nelson to Judas in the story of Jesus’ betrayal saying this deal merely had more money than the 30 pieces of silver that exchanged hands in setting up Christ’s death.

“Senator Nelson obliterated the hope of pro-life Americans who saw him as the last man standing," Julie Schmit-Albin of Nebraska Right to Life added.

People were heard shouting "Recall!" and "Liar!" at the mention of Nelson’s name.

David Madsen of Nebraska City and his wife, Diane, told AP they felt betrayed by Nelson, whom they had counted on as pro-life.

"I will actively be involved in my own community to lead the fight against Ben Nelson," Madsen said.

Nelson, himself, condemned the rally.

"This is all orchestrated," Nelson said Sunday. "It’s so thinly disguised … it’s almost laughable.

Meanwhile, pro-life Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, who had contacted Nelson about the abortion funding in the bill, said he opposed the deal. According to AP, Heineman expressed anything but gratitude, saying he had nothing to do with the compromise and calling the overhaul bill "bad news for Nebraska and bad news for America."

The state’s Catholic bishops said they were "extremely disappointed" in him and the Nebraska Republican Party promised to defeat him in the next election.

Nebraska’s Republican Sen. Mike Johanns said he was "stunned and incredibly disappointed," and called the compromise’s abortion language a "watered-down accounting gimmick that leads to Nebraska taxpayers subsidizing abortions in other states."

Americans for Prosperity of Nebraska joined with pro-life advocates to hold a rally in Omaha to complain about Nelson’s decision.

Sign Up for Free Pro-Life News From

Daily Pro-Life News Report Twice-Weekly Pro-Life
News Report
Receive a free daily email report from with the latest pro-life news stories on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here. Receive a free twice-weekly email report with the latest pro-life news headlines on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here.