Ben Nelson Attacks Pro-Life Advocates, Defends Pro-Abortion Compromise

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 24, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Ben Nelson Attacks Pro-Life Advocates, Defends Pro-Abortion Compromise

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 24
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Facing an enormous backlash for becoming the 60th vote for a health care bill that his language allows to fund abortions, Ben Nelson is striking back. In comments both on and off the Senate floor yesterday and today, Nelson lashed out at pro-life advocates and is defending his much-maligned compromise.

In a Senate floor speech on Tuesday, Nelson defended the abortion language he added to the Senate-passed health care bill.

He said when his legitimate amendment to ban abortions failed, he compromised.

"I began the process of trying to find other solutions that I thought equally walled off the use of federal funds and made it clear that no federal funds would be used," he claimed.

However, as the head of Nebraska Right to Life informed, Nelson ditched pro-life advocates by refusing to allow them to provide analysis on the language — which ultimately was found by every pro-life group to fund abortions.

Upset that he is now regarded as a sellout, Nelson struck back.

"Now, apparently I didn’t say, ‘Mother, may I?’ in the process of writing that language because others took issue with it, even though they cannot constructively point out how it doesn’t prohibit the use of federal funds or wall off those funds or keep them totally segregated. They just didn’t like the language," he said.

"You know, it’s unfortunate, though, to continue to distort and misrepresent what happens here in the body of the Senate. It’s difficult enough to have committees, difficult enough to have cooperation. It’s difficult enough to have collegiality. When politics are put above policy and productivity, this is what we get," he continued.

Nelson said he would be "happy" if the Stupak or original Nelson amendment holds up in the conference committee.

Meanwhile, Nelson is coming under fire from the Washington Times, which ran an editorial on Tuesday condemning his compromise as pro-abortion.

The Times says, "On Page 41 (lines 5-8) of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s manager amendment, the proposed rules mandate that everyone buying insurance through new exchanges or through the new government-run plan must pay a monthly abortion premium to be used for elective abortion services."

"This fee applies ‘without regard to the enrollee’s age, sex or family status.’ That means that people who have no possibility of wanting an abortion themselves will pay for others to have them. On Page 43 (lines 1-7), insurance companies will be required to assess the cost of elective abortion coverage, and on Page 43 (lines 20-22) they are mandated to charge a minimum of at least $1 per enrollee per month to cover abortion," the newspaper notes.

"Many Americans wanted to believe Mr. Nelson was a decent man of his word, but the senator caved in when his vote could have made a difference for the lives of the unborn. A politician can’t get any more despicable than that," the paper concluded.

Even the liberal Washington Post thinks Nelson is disingenuous.

Michael Gerson spoke with Nelson over the phone Thursday morning.

Gerson says Nelson "insisted that the legislative language on abortion he accepted accomplishes most or all of what the Stupak amendment does in the House."

"Nelson has a background in the insurance industry, and he explained to me in detail how premium payments covering elective abortion would be segregated in his approach. He stands, as far as I can tell, alone among pro-life leaders in this view of the compromise, which is criticized by the National Council of Catholic Bishops, the National Right to Life Committee and Congressman Bart Stupak himself," Gerson added.

"The fact remains that the federal government, under the Reid-Nelson approach, would subsidize private health insurance plans that cover abortion – a departure from longstanding policy," Gerson added.

"I did not find these explanations compelling," he concluded of Nelson’s insistence that his language doesn’t fund abortions.

ACTION: Respond to Nelson at (202) 224-6551 or

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