By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
A critical vote in the U.S. Senate that will strip abortion coverage from health care reform could take place as early as today.
The amendment, which will be offered by pro-life Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), is similar to the Stupak amendment which passed by a wide margin in the House on Nov. 7.
Passage of the Nelson Amendment appears slim and if it does fail, the Senate’s version of health care reform will not only provide massive federal funding of abortion – which polls say is opposed by 70 percent of Americans – but it could also potentially mandate abortion coverage in all medical insurance plans, thanks to an amendment by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) which passed yesterday.
Sen. Nelson is promising to filibuster the final bill if it does not contain his amendment or one substantially similar to the Stupak Amendment. Nelson’s filibuster would potentially kill the final bill, but only if he was joined by every Republican Senator, which is doubtful because of pro-abortion Republicans such as Olympia Snowe (R-ME) who may be convinced to vote for the bill for other reasons.
Meanwhile, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) who sometimes votes pro-life, has been working to find language that could satisfy both sides.
“Our goal is to maintain essentially Hyde-like protections that prevent federal funds from being used to pay for and subsidize abortion,” Casey’s communications director Larry Smar said Wednesday, referring to the existing law on abortion, though nothing had been finalized.
Sen. Casey is considered a critical vote, as is pro-abortion Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) who has been promising her constituents at a town hall meetings that she will oppose abortion funding in health care reform.
To contact your Senator about this crucial vote, visit http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
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