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Senate Defeats Nelson Amendment

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist The Senate voted last night to defeat an amendment that would have restricted abortion funding in the health care bill, thus insuring more battles to come on this contentious issue. is reporting that the Senate voted 54-45 to defeat the Nelson-Hatch-Casey amendment which preserved the existing Hyde amendment policy that bans the government from using taxpayer funds for abortion. In order to insure the amendment’s defeat, Senate leaders “tabled” the amendment, which allowed it to bypass the 60-vote rule needed for an up-or-down vote. After introducing the amendment, Sen. Ben Nelson, who has vowed to vote against any health care bill that does not include this language, said the health care overhaul "should not be used to open a new avenue for public funding of abortion." He added: "The question has been settled.  Most Americans, even some who support abortion, do not want taxpayer money to pay for abortions. We should not break with precedent on this bill. . . . It's time to simply extend the standard disallowing public funding of abortion, which has stood the test of time, to new proposed federal legislation." Pro-abortion senators erroneously claimed that the bill already does so, but loopholes in the language would allow abortion to be covered. "The current bill has language that looks like it is protective, but it is not," said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) on Tuesday.  "That's what we're trying to do, is close the loophole in that language, and get it so that we live up to the Hyde amendment, which has been in the law since 1977. To be honest with you, I don't see how anyone can argue that taxpayers should be called upon to foot the bill to pay for abortions," he added.  "Nelson’s fellow Democrats, including many Catholics, bowed to the pressure of the abortion lobby and approved this massive taxpayer handout to Planned Parenthood and the billion-dollar abortion industry," he said. “Catholic voters who may have disagreed on whether this legislation was a good idea to begin with have no choice but to collectively oppose this health care bill.” Douglas Johnson, legistlative director of the National Right to Life Commitee said that the next hurdle will be the vote on cloture on the bill itself, "which will become the key vote on whether to put the federal government into the abortion business," he said.   "We will oppose cloture on the bill, which would require 60 affirmative votes.  In addition, a number of pro-life Democrats in the House, who supported passage of health care legislation on November 7, will not vote for the Senate bill in its current form." He added: "This is a long way from over." © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®