Senator McCain Leads the Charge Against Defense Department Bill Over Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 5, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senator McCain Leads the Charge Against Defense Department Bill Over Abortion

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 5
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — Senator John McCain fired off the first volley in what is expected to be a fierce battle over the bill to authorize funding for the Defense Department. Because of abortion and other issues, he objected today to September consideration of the legislation.

McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, objected when Senate Democrats sought unanimous consent to arrange for the Senate to consider the defense bill after its August recess.

McCain said he would not agree to allow the bill to be considered unless senators had an opportunity to remove from the bill language that overturns the current ban on abortions at taxpayer-funded military base hospitals in the U.S. and overseas.

The fight concerns the amendment Sen. Roland Burris attached to a defense spending bill to allow abortions at taxpayer-funded military base hospitals. The Senate Armed Services Committee approved the amendment on a 15-12 vote.

All Democrats supported it except for Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who joined all of the committee’s Republicans in opposition.

“It’s again the chairman of the committee and the majority leader and the other side moving forward with a social agenda on a legislation that was intended to ensure this nation’s security. Along with it, they have abortion – [it] is going to be performed in military hospitals for the first time in a long time," he said on the Senate floor today.

Sen. Carl Levin, a pro-abortion Michigan Democrat who would manage the bill on the Senate floor if it comes up, promised lawmakers would have an opportunity to debate the abortion provision on the Senate floor.

But McCain wasn’t willing to take the chance and he recalled how Democrats shut Republicans out of offering amendments to the bill last year.

Because of McCain’s objection, Senate Democrats will have to find 60 votes to get around his objection and allow the bill with its pro-abortion provision to come to the floor.

Legislative leaders talked with said the bill will now not come up again for that potential 60-vote challenge until early September.

The Senate is expected to defeat a pro-life effort to remove the Burris pro-abortion language from the measure, which will come by way of an amendment from pro-life Sen. Roger Wicker.

If the amendment fails, pro-life groups will probably urge lawmakers to support the planned filibuster McCain promises.

The House version of Department of Defense Authorization passed last month and did not contain language similar to the Burris amendment and Representative Ike Skelton, the Missouri Democrat who leads the Armed Services Committee, typically votes pro-life and is opposed to it.

Skelton may be called to lead the opposition to the Burris amendment in a conference committee run by pro-abortion Democrats.

The House has repeatedly rejected similar efforts in the past and, most recently, a bipartisan majority defeated an amendment by Rep. Robert Andrews to allow abortion in overseas military facilities by a vote of 237-191 in 2006.

The Burris amendment is more expansive than a 2006 effort because it allows abortion on both domestic and overseas military bases.

The issue of abortions done at military base medical centers has been around for two decades.

When ex-President Clinton allowed abortions in military facilities from 1993 to 1996, all military physicians (as well as many nurses and supporting personnel) refused to perform or assist in elective abortions. In response, the Clinton administration attempted to hire civilians to do abortions.

ACTION: Go to this page to contact your senators and urge opposition to abortions at U.S. military bases. Urge opposition to the Burris amendment and support for the Wicker amendment.


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