Abortion still the stumbling block for ObamaCare

posted at 11:36 am on March 3, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

How big will abortion become in the final House vote on ObamaCare?  Even NPR now reports that it has arguably become the biggest issue in adopting the Senate version of the health-care overhaul.  The House version passed with the public option and with the Stupak amendment, giving progressives and moderates an uneasy draw in November.  Neither exist in the Senate version, and while both factions in the Democratic caucus are unhappy about that, the abortion problem may be too difficult to surmount:

Of the remaining issues with the potential to bring down the entire health overhaul effort, the one that lawmakers fear most is abortion.

Abortion is such a politically hazardous issue that sponsors of both the House and Senate health bills have said their object was to maintain the status quo. “It is not the intention of this bill to, as the speaker has said, to change the policy that has been in place for three decades,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, (D-MD), on Tuesday. Hoyer was referring to what is known as the Hyde Amendment. It has barred federal funds from being used to pay for abortions since 1977.

But keeping the health bills abortion-neutral has proved impossible. And now the abortion language in the Senate-passed bill in particular could threaten the strategy Democratic leaders hope to use to get a final measure to President Obama’s desk for a signature.

Last year, I wrote about the difference between the Senate and House versions of the language barring federal funding of abortions.  The Stupak amendment explicitly barred federal funding for abortion services in any form in plain language.  The Senate version instead relies on the mechanism of the Hyde amendment, which only applies if Congress renews it annually as part of the appropriations process.  Once Congress fails to renew the Hyde Amendment (which bars HHS funds from being used for abortion services), the Senate language actually creates a mandate for the federal government to provide those funds.  The key language comes in Section 1303:

The Secretary shall assure that with respect to qualified health plans offered in any Exchange established pursuant to this title—(I) there is at least one such plan that provides coverage of services described in clauses (i) and (ii) of subparagraph (B); and (II) there is at least one such plan that does not provide coverage of services described in subparagraph (B)(i).

Clauses (i) and (ii) relate to abortion services that would normally be barred from federal funding.  Instead of barring the use of federal funds for abortions, the government would mandate abortion insurance once the Hyde amendment disappears, and would have to provide it by law if no private insurers offered it.  It’s a carte blanche for subsidized abortions.

The National Right to Life Campaign agrees, and plans on making this a critical vote:

But while abortion-rights groups may not like the Senate bill, pro-life groups downright hate it. “In total, the Senate bill is the most pro-abortion single piece of legislation ever to reach the floor of the House of Representatives,” said Douglas Johnson, federal legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee. “The so-called abortion limits that are in the Senate bill are all very narrow, loophole ridden, or booby-trapped to expire,” he said. …

National Right to Life’s opinion on the bill counts, because it scores votes as being pro-life or not. And Johnson has made it clear how his group will score this vote. “No member of the House of Representatives who is pro-life, or who wishes to have a record against federal funding of abortion could possibly vote for the Senate bill.”

That raises a big red flag for Democratic leaders in both houses. That’s because the way they are hoping to finish work on their health overhaul is for the House to pass the Senate’s bill — abortion language and all. Then they plan to pass a second bill that will incorporate a number of compromises between the House and Senate. For that they’ll useo the so-called budget reconciliation process that only requires 51 Senate votes.

That process won’t include changes to the Senate version of the abortion language.  While the Stupak amendment would easily pass the House again with bipartisan support, the Senate won’t offer it.  Ben Nelson (D-NE) insisted that any version of the bill would have to have it, but then retreated once he received his Cornhusker Kickback.

The question will be whether Stupak and other pro-life Democrats will vote for an abortion mandate mechanism in the end just to appease Pelosi and Obama.  NRLC bets that they won’t — but if they do, NRLC wants to make sure that it sticks to them in the midterm elections.

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Ahh, right on cue! Archimedes on March 3, 2010 at 2:41 PM

Aaaaah, yeah. That would the perspicacity I was referring to. Maybe our posts crossed?

smellthecoffee on March 3, 2010 at 2:51 PM

If it would appear so. Nice talikin to ya, I’m sure we’ll bump into eachother again. I’m off to what’s with Bam-bam’s presentation and what the haps with the Supremes and the all important 2nd!

Archimedes on March 3, 2010 at 3:00 PM

This ungodly administration must have their child sacrifice or there will be no prosperity!!!!!!!!!!

daesleeper on March 3, 2010 at 3:00 PM

Two simple questions—-Given Obama’s speech/demand just heard on TV, did I miss the part where at some time after the health care summit, there was language put into the Senate bill the President is insisting the House vote on and pass for him to sign into law? Further, where is this “we are incorporating some of the Republican ideas” language that the President just said in “the white coats 2” speech? Simply saying it’s so, doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. Talk about a box of chocolates. Every time this man speaks, he says something different that makes you want to go “HUH????. Stupid is as stupid does.

Rovin on March 3, 2010 at 3:16 PM

From Hillbuzz:

Let’s do this!

The Reconciliation Nuclear Option Will Destroy Democrats: But Only If We Do Our Part
Posted by hillbuzz under Uncategorized | Tags: cut off the Democrats’ funding, Identify and pressure major Democrat donors, Reconciliation, Use Alinsky Methods against Democrats |
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Since it’s been announced the White House, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid are going to ram the Healthcare Rationing bill through “Reconciliation”, an unconstitutional and illegal move, by the way, since Reconciliation was never intended for a bill as massive and nation-changing as this Rationing Bill, moderates, conservatives, and independents need to join forces to completely obliterate the current DNC.

They must not just lose in November.

It needs to be the biggest losses a political party has ever suffered in any election year. Period.

To do that, we propose taking a tactic Republicans have never used against Democrats before, the equivalent of nuking the DNC for using the “nuclear option” in the Senate.

You might be tempted to start burning up the phones to tell Democrats in office not to go ahead with this. We think that is a waste of time, since all elected Democrats in Washington are fully and forever committed to this madness. Every last one of them needs to be booted from office come November. They are not going to change their minds, or their votes, no matter how much you call or email them.

BUT, there is a way to get to these people, something that has never been done.

We need to launch a massive, coast-to-coast effort to identify and pressure the Democrats’ LARGE DONORS to put a stop to this madness.

Large political donors are vulnerable because they are people the public doesn’t know. They are business men and women. Socialites. Wealthy people who fund political campaigns largely, in most cases, because it’s fun and something to do, and they like getting pictures with presidents and senators.

If these people suddenly found themselves on the receiving end of public ire, they’d stop writing the DNC checks.

If the DNC doesn’t get those checks, it can’t fund campaigns in the fall. That means heavier Leftist losses. Which means, come 2011, whatever makes it through Reconciliation can be repealed.

What we need to happen is this: we need to convince other moderate, conservative, and independent sites to think outside the usual box and direct all activist power to identifying and pressuring Democrat donors to rein the office-holders in. Instead of hitting the Senators and Congress critters directly, it will carry much more weight to have wealthy socialite donors make those calls for us — frantic — that their support for the people behind this madness has caused the public to start sending thousands of letters a day to their law firms and jamming their fax machines with endless letters demanding to know why they are the ones funding this madness.

It’s like a battlefield strategy to cut off the Democrats’ supply chain: if we severe the money stream from large private donors, we can cripple the DNC.

It will be a lot of hard work. We certainly can’t do this alone. But, we all have fundraising experience here. We’ve been on statewide Finance Committees. We know how skittish donors are. These people don’t want to be noticed. They don’t want to hear from the public. They don’t want to be questioned about why they’re writing big checks that directly led to the people they support enacting the “nuclear option” of Reconciliation.

Hold the donors accountable.

Cut off the DNC’s funding.

Cripple the Leftists.

Save the country.

Brainstorm in this thread how we can make it happen, and then let’s get to work tomorrow growing the plan and building the alliance we need across the moderate, conservative, and independent spectrum to MAKE IT HAPPEN.

patriotparty1 on March 3, 2010 at 3:17 PM

The abortion thing is the stupidest of all reasons to prevent this health scare bill from passing. That said, I’ll take any reason, even one this dumb to stop this train wreck!

MJBrutus on March 3, 2010 at 5:32 PM

Ever talk to a liberal about abortion? When they argue for importing more legal/illegal immigrants they say, “We don’t have enough people to work?” Okay, then logic tells you to birth your unborn 1 million aborted babies a year, then you wouldn’t need to import a million people a year. Even that’s a false argument. Anyway, call your senators and representatives everyone, and stop any nationalized health care legislation. Thanks!

Humphrey007 on March 3, 2010 at 5:32 PM