By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 19, 2009 ( – The phony compromise language unveiled in the Senate health care bill Wednseday night has already won high praise from pro-abortion lawmakers on Capitol Hill; yet, it has not fared as well under the scrutiny of the National Right to Life Committee, who slammed the bill's abortion funding as “completely unacceptable.”

The Senate language closely reflects the “Capps amendment” from an earlier version of the House bill,  which had been advanced by the pro-abortion Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) as a false compromise measure on abortion instead of the pro-life Stupak/Pitts amendment. (The Senate bill can be viewed here.)

National Right to Life Committee legislative Director Douglas Johnson said it was regrettable, but predictable that Reid would abandon the Stupak/Pitts amendment for the “hollow” language.

“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) has rejected the bipartisan Stupak-Pitts Amendment and has substituted completely unacceptable language that would result in coverage of abortion on demand in two big new federal government programs,” said Johnson. 

“Reid seeks to cover elective abortions in two big new federal health programs, but tries to conceal that unpopular reality with layers of contrived definitions and hollow bookkeeping requirements.”

The Senate bill explicitly authorizes the federal Secretary of Health and Human services to require coverage of any and all abortions through a government-funded health insurance option.  This means government-appropriated funds would go to elective abortions, violating Hyde-amendment policy.  The bill also allows taxpayer subsidies to help purchase plans that cover elective abortions.

The Stupak amendment, on the other hand, fully restored Hyde-amendment restrictions on federal funding for elective abortion in the House bill.  Under that amendment, the government-run insurance option would not fund elective abortions, and recipients of taxpayer insurance subsidies would purchase elective abortion coverage with private money. 

Major pro-life organizations, including the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), have consistently stated that only the Stupak language acceptably restores the ban on federal abortion funding.  Earlier this month, the USCCB and the NRLC jointly tore apart another House “compromise” attempt that also failed to uphold the ban.

Some pro-abortion Senators have already exalted Reid's abortion language, claiming that it accurately reflects the Hyde amendment. 

“Senator Reid did an excellent job of crafting language that maintains the decades long compromise of no federal funds for abortion,” gushed Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA).  Boxer has a consistently 100% pro-abortion rating from NARAL.

Late Wednedsay, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, who also votes largely pro-abortion, claimed to reporters that Reid's bill “extends the Hyde amendment to these programs so the status quo is maintained.”  Rep. Capps, another 100% NARAL-approved legislator and author of the House's phony compromise, praised Reid's language and noted that it “closely mirrors my language” in the original House bill. 

The same legislators had lambasted the Stupak language as “illogical, discriminatory, and unnecessary” (Capps) and a “very radical amendment which would really tear apart compromise” (Boxer).

By claiming to uphold the Hyde amendment, pro-abortion lawmakers could be hoping to attract the pro-life majority opinion regarding the bill's funding: 61% of respondents in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday opposed the use of federal funds for elective abortion, with only 37% in favor.

See related coverage:

Analysis: Abortion Funding in Senate Health-Care Bill Stuck Between Reid and a Hard Place 

Updated: Pro-Life Leaders React to Health Bill Outcome: Caution Outweighs Celebration

Updated: Analysis: The Threats to Pro-Life Values Remaining in the U.S. House Health Care Bill


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