Diary

Can Abortion Derail Health Care Legislation?

The health care bill is on the rocks. A number of Democrats are wavering. Nancy Pelosi needs to find enough votes from her ranks assuming some defectors.

Her job just got much harder. Nineteen pro-life Democrats have written a terse letter to Nancy Pelosi demanding that abortion not be funded in any health care legislation and they mean business. The letter states [bold is mine]:

Dear Honorable Pelosi:

As the debate on health care reform continues and legislation is produced, it is imperative that the issue of abortion not be overlooked. Plans to mandate coverage for abortions, either directly or indirectly is unacceptable.

We believe in a culture that supports and respects the right to life and is dedicated to the protection and preservation of families. Therefore, we cannot support any health care reform proposal unless it explicitly excludes abortion from the scope of any government-defined or subsidized health insurance plan. We believe that a government-defined or subsidized health insurance plan, should not be used to fund abortion.

Furthermore, we want to ensure that the Health Benefits Advisory Committee cannot recommend abortion services be included under covered benefits or as part of a benefits package. Without an explicit exclusion, abortion could be included in a government subsidized health care plan under general health care. The health care reform package produced by Congress will be landmark, and with legislation as important as this, abortion must be addressed clearly in the bill text.

Furthermore, funding restrictions save lives by reducing the number of abortions. The Guttmacher Policy Review, a leading pro-choice research organization noted “that about one third of women who would have had an abortion if support were available carried their pregnancies to term when the abortion fund was unavailable.”

Thank you for taking the time to consider our request. By ensuring that abortions are not funded through any health care reform package, we will take this controversial issue off the table so that Congress can focus on crafting a broadly-supported health care reform bill.

Respectfully yours,

That is strong unequivocal language. The pro-choice lobby has been examining ways to incorporate abortion into the legislation and they are much, much more powerful than the pro-life Democrats. But the pro-life Democrats won’t be duped by double talk and are demanding an explicit exclusion. This is trouble for Pelosi.

As we all witnessed during the cap and trade vote, nineteen votes is a lot. Many will probably fall in line. But even if half do not, it could be a potential deal breaker.

With some suprises, the nineteen:

Reps. Dan Boren (D-OK); Bart Stupak (D-MI); Colin Peterson (D-MN); Tim Holden (D-PA); Travis Childers (D-MS); Lincoln Davis (D-TN); Heath Shuler (D-NC) Solomon Ortiz (D-TX); Mike McIntyre (D-NC); Jerry Costello (D-IL); Gene Taylor (D-MS); James Oberstar (D-MN); Bobby Bright (D-AL); Steve Driehaus (D-OH); Marcy Kaptur (D-OH); Charlie Melancon (D-LA); John Murtha (D-PA); Paul Kanjorski (D-PA); and Kathleen Dahlkemper (D-PA).