Abortion Advocates Concerned Filibuster Reform Hurts Them

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 14, 2011   |   11:44AM   |   Washington, DC

When it comes to plans to reform the way in which filibusters work in the Senate, one group that stands to lose the most is mounting some opposition to the idea.

Abortion advocates tell Politico they are concerned about efforts by Senate Democrats to take away or limit the rights of the minority party in the Senate to use the filibuster to stop legislation, amendments or nominees. Under the filibuster rules, senators wanting to vote on legislation or amendments must obtain 60 votes before they can move ahead with a vote, as opposed to the traditional majority.

Staffers with NARAL and other pro-abortion groups have raised the concerns with their pro-abortion friends in the Senate about the push by Senators Tom Harkin, Tom Udall, and Jeff Merkley. The lawmakers want to revise the filibuster rules to make it so lawmakers actually have to go to the Senate floor to filibuster — debate and talk — as opposed to  threatening to do so without carrying through with the endless debate.

Amy Taylor, the interim vice president for public policy at Planned Parenthood, told Politico, “Like many organizations, we have had discussions with Senate offices about the various filibuster reform proposals which we are currently evaluating.”

And NARAL spokesman Ted Miller added, “We are monitoring this debate and talking with Senate offices about filibuster reform along with other issues. Regarding the filibuster reform specifically, we’re evaluating the proposals, but we have not issued a formal position yet.”

But one unnamed staffer for a pro-abortion group was more candid with Politico and said the filibuster reform efforts would hurt their ability to prevent votes on pro-life legislation and pro-life amendments, that could include attaching pro-life bills House Republicans are expected to pass.

“Our main concern is that traditionally, out of the filibuster, an automatic 60-vote threshold has emerged on abortion issues,” that activist said. “After the November 2 elections, and looking at the trajectory on this issue, it’s really important that the automatic 60-vote threshold on abortion amendments is preserved. We’re going to need the Senate to be able to beat back attacks.”

Thomas Peters of CatholicVote.org noticed the discussion on the filibuster and said the discussion of it shows the dichotomy of the 201 election results — with pro-life advocates winning a majority in the House but not the Senate because just one-third of the Senate is up for election at any one time.

He said “pro-abortion groups are worried that they have enough votes and power in the Senate to filibuster pro-life legislation, but not if the procedural rules are changed.”

Whether the rules are changed or not, Peters says pro-life advocates have a tough time getting legislation signed into law because pro-abortion President Barack Obama stands in the way.

“Of course, even if the House and Senate did agree to pro-life measures, we can still expect our pro-abortion President to veto them. We still have a long way to go before we have a truly pro-life Washington DC making laws for the rest of the country,” he added. “But still, the pro-abortion side is worried. And that’s always a good thing for the unborn.”