NRLC urges defeat of health bill after abortion vote

WASHINGTON (December 8, 2009) --  By a vote of 54 to 45, the U.S. Senate today tabled (killed) an amendment to remove elective abortion from the new federal programs that would be created by pending health care legislation.  The following statement was issued by the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the federation of right-to-life organizations in all 50 states, and may be attributed to NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson.

A majority of senators today voted to keep abortion covered in the proposed federal government insurance program, and to subsidize private insurance plans that cover abortion on demand.  Now, the vote on cloture on the bill itself will become the key vote on whether to put the federal government into the abortion business.  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.  So, this is a long way from over.

The amendment rejected today, supported by NRLC, was sponsored by Senator Ben Nelson (D-Ne.) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).  It contained the same substance as the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which was adopted by the House of Representatives on November 7, 240-194.  Both amendments would prevent the federal government insurance program (the "public option") from paying for abortion (except to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest).  In addition, both amendments would prevent federal subsidies from being used to purchase private health plans that cover elective abortion, but would not restrict the sale or purchase of such policies with private funds.

As NRLC has previously noted, the health care bill pending in the Senate, proposed by Senator Harry Reid (D-Nv.) and backed by President Obama, would authorize the federal government to pay for any and all abortions through a huge new federal health insurance program, the "public option," and would also subsidize purchase of private plans that cover abortion on demand.  President Obama and Reid know that the substance of these abortion-promoting policies is deeply unpopular, so they seek to conceal the reality with layers of contorted definitions and money-laundering schemes.

For extensive further documentation on aspects of the health care legislation relating to abortion, visit the NRLC website at