By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 20, 2009 ( – A key procedural vote is expected to take place Saturday evening on the Senate version of President Obama's health care overhaul – called by one official with the US Catholic Bishops the “worst bill we've seen so far” regarding abortion funding.  In addition, a stream of polling data this week shows Americans in steady opposition to the federal abortion funding contained in Reid's bill.

Saturday's cloture vote marks the first major opportunity to take down the health bill altogether, if at least one Democrat senator opposed the procedural motion.  Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), a pro-life Democrat who had hinted that he opposed abortion funding in the bill, has indicated that he would support cloture – a let-down for strategists who saw Nelson as the most likely Senator to break party lines.

The Family Research Council states on its website today “tomorrow night, the Senate leadership has absolutely no margin for error. The bill may only have the support of 35% of voters, but Sen. Reid will need 100% approval from his party—and then some—to jump the bill's first real hurdle.”

The Senate is expected to convene at 10:00 a.m. Saturday morning to debate until the cloture vote at 8 p.m.

Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's version “is actually the worst bill we've seen so far on the life issues,” according to the Associated Press.

Instead of using the Stupak amendment, which would bar all federal funding of elective abortion, the Senate bill's abortion language reflects the “Capps amendment,” a measure introduced in an early version of the House bill that was soundly rejected by pro-life leaders as a phony compromise.  The Capps amendment explicitly opens the government-run public insurance option to elective abortion, and would allow taxpayer insurance subsidies to fund plans that cover elective abortion. 

Some praise the Reid bill as maintaining the Hyde amendment, which bans all federal abortion funding.  Yet, ironically, that claim is almost exclusively promoted by the most staunchly pro-abortion lawmakers on Capitol Hill – among them House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Lois Capps, and Sen. Barbara Boxer, all of whom have earned 100% pro-abortion ratings from NARAL.

Despite this tug-of-war, polling data released this week consistently shows Americans preferring the true Hyde-amendment restrictions found in Stupak's language.

A Washington Post poll released Monday (item 21) pursues a specific aspect of the Stupak ban by asking: “Say someone buys private health insurance using government assistance to help pay for it. Do you think insurance sold that way should or should not be allowed to include coverage for abortions?”  61% answered “should not,” while 35% answered “should.”

Another poll conducted by the Associated Press Tuesday asked, “Generally speaking, are you in favor of using public funds for abortions when the woman cannot afford it, or are you opposed to that?”  Again, 61% of respondents opposed the funding. 

The National Right to Life Committee has compiled these and other recent poll results showing broad public opposition to government funding for abortion.

More polling data released Friday shows Americans continuing to oppose the Democrats' health care overhaul on a whole: in a FOX News survey, 51% of respondents opposed the current reform legsiation, with 35% in favor. 

See related coverage:

Pro-Abortion Lawmakers Shower Praise on Senate Bill's Phony Abortion Compromise

6 out of 10 of Americans Oppose Public Funding of Abortion