Sidebar Bill Discussed to Ban Abortion Funding in Health Care Bill, Prospects Dim
by Steven Ertelt
March 5, 2010
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The talk in Congress of a sidebar bill to attempt to ban the massive abortion funding currently found in the Senate health care bill is escalating. But the prospects for such a bill are dim as the Senate doesn’t have enough votes and pro-life advocates worry such an idea may backfire.
Rep. Bart Stupak, the leading pro-life Democrat in the House who has been orchestrating opposition to the bill among Democrats because of its pro-abortion components, first brought up the idea of a sidebar bill.
Stupak has said he has enough pro-life Democrats to derail the pro-abortion health care bill in the House.
With the reconciliation process not able to stop the abortion funding in the Senate health care bill — the rules for the companion reconciliation bill would not allow changes to the abortion funding — Stupak said a sidebar bill is a possibility.
"It would have to be a separate bill, you could sidebar it to the final bill," Stupak said. "One bill doesn’t pass without the other. They walk down the aisle together."
Late Thursday, pro-abortion House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said such a bill is a possibility and that one could be drafted to get the pro-life Democrats on board with the overall health care bill.
"Separate pieces of legislation could be passed that would relate to that," Hoyer said, according to The Hill. "That’s a possibility. I talked to Mr. Stupak today, and I’m going to be talking to him next week and he indicated he wanted to have some discussions with people. And I will do that."
Stupak said he has discussed the concept of a sidebar bill with pro-abortion House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
While the House would have enough votes to pass it — it approved the Stupak amendment to the House bill to ban abortion funding on a lopsided margin — the Senate is another story.
In December, the Senate defeated the Nelson amendment to ban abortion funding on a 54-45 vote. The only change in the makeup of the Senate since then is the addition of Scott Brown, who would presumably become the 46th vote for a sidebar bill.
A sidebar bill would likely satisfy the pro-life concerns about abortion funding and other promotion of abortion in the Senate health care bill, but there is a concern for pro-life advocates.
Even if Congress approves both the pro-abortion Senate health care bill and the sidebar bill banning abortion funding, President Barack Obama is under no obligation to sign the sidebar bill.
In fact, he would face tremendous pressure from Planned Parenthood, NARAL and the abortion lobby to veto the bill — leaving Americans obligated to pay for potentially hundreds of thousands of abortions under the health care measure the sidebar bill enabled.
Ed Morrissey, a conservative writer at HotAir, says the sidebar bill isn’t a good idea for pro-life advocates and would never become law anyway.
"How desperate have Democrats become in their attempt to convince pro-life House moderates to support the Senate version of ObamaCare?" he asks.
He thinks Pelosi and Obama would have little interest in a sidebar bill becoming law.
"Nancy Pelosi would have to allow it to come to a floor vote the same Nancy Pelosi who only allowed Stupak a vote on the amendment in the first place because she would have lost the ObamaCare vote without it. Is Nancy Pelosi a die-hard abortion opponent, or someone who wants to see federal funding of abortion as part of a government overhaul and takeover of the health-care system?" Morrissey writes.
‘Then, assuming that the Senate would pass it when they just got done stripping out the Stupak language three months ago, the bill would have to go to President Barack Obama for his signature. That would be the same Barack Obama who said this on the campaign trail in 2007," Morrissey aded, linking to a video of Obama telling Planned Parenthood he would become their lap dog as president.
"In other words, a separate bill with the Stupak language has about as much chance of passage as we do of seeing Obama suddenly transform into a supply-sider overnight," he concluded.
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