Abortion Language In Senate Health Bill Draws Strong Criticism
In the hours after the latest abortion compromise was unveiled -- resulting from an agreement reached between Senate Democratic leaders and Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb.-- news outlets have reported on the reaction.
The New York Times Prescriptions blog: "The abortion compromise in the Senate has angered advocates on both sides of the issue. Senator Ben Nelson, the Nebraska Democrat, had been holding up the Senate health care bill until he was satisfied with new anti-abortion language, which was made public on Saturday by the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada." After the specifics of this agreement were detailed, groups such as the National Right to Life Committee and the National Organization for Women issued statements expressing their opposition. And, although key Democratic Senators known for their support of abortion rights were involved in the negotiations with Nelson, The Times noted that "[i]t is not clear at this point whether enough Senators will object to scuttle the Senate bill or enough House members might object to derail any final legislation to emerge from a House-Senate conference" (Seelye, 12/19).
The Hill: "A number of Republican senators attacked an agreement ... saying it would lead to the eventual reversal of more than 30 years of federal law banning abortion funding. The agreement reached between Nelson and ... Reid will give states the choice to ban abortion coverage or not in the insurance exchanges the legislation creates. The deal will also separate premiums from insurance plans that pay for abortion from federal money." And, unlike the Stupak Amendment included in the House-passed health overhaul bill, the language "has not won backing of the Catholic bishops" (Bogardus, 12/19).
The Associated Press/The Washington Post: The compromise has "reignited" the House debate. Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak, who advanced the House-passed amendment, "said the Senate abortion language is 'not acceptable.'" He called it a "a dramatic shift in federal policy" and said it would "'would allow the federal government to subsidize insurance policies with abortion coverage.'" He pledged to keep working toward an acceptable solution that would allow him ultimately to vote for the health care bill (Alonso-Zaldivar, 12/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.