Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) --
With the bare minimum needed, Senate Democrats voted on Saturday
night to begin the official debate and amendment process for a
health care reform bill that allows for massive abortion funding.
The measure sponsored by Senate leader Harry Reid could fund
hundreds of thousands of abortions.
The vote split entirely on party lines with 60 Democrats voting to
break the Republican filibuster supported by 39 party members in the
Several Democrats who may ultimately vote against the bill supported
cloture to end debate on the Motion to Proceed.
They included Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Bob Casey of
Pennsylvania, the only Democrats in the Senate who call themselves
pro-life and pro-abortion Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota, who
joins then in wanting
a Stupak-like amendment to ban the abortion funding.
Democrats in swing states, like Arkansas' Blanche Lincoln and Mary
Landrieu of Louisiana, and independent Sen. Joe Lieberman -- each of
whom could ultimately vote against the bill -- also supported
cloture and the Motion to Proceed on debate. They said they hope to
see the bill amended to correct some of their concerns.
But Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said the
best opportunity to change the bill is to defeat it.
"The best opportunity to change the bill would be at the beginning,"
he said. "Denying the majority leader the vote he needs to start the
bill would have empowered any Democratic senator who is truly
interested in making a change, whether the change was on abortion
[or other issues] ... The time of maximum leverage would have been
prior to tonight's vote."
The abortion funding comes in both the public option as well as
through the affordability credits.
Americans United for Life Action president Charmaine Yoest talked
with LifeNews.com about the vote.
“Senator Reid’s bill provides for an unprecedented expansion of
federally-funded abortion," she said. "The majority of Americans who
oppose federal funding of abortion will not stand for policies that
force them into paying for abortions under the guise of health care
She said the bill contains five major threats to pro-life
The bill allows the HHS Secretary to require coverage of any and all
abortions through the public option, creates new federally-funded
subsidies for private health plans that cover abortion, and requires
every insurance market to include a private plan that covers
abortion, Yoest explained.
The Senate health care bill also fails to sufficiently protect
health care entities from discrimination on the basis that the
health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of,
or refer for abortions and fails to prohibit federal funding of
Yoest confirmed that the Senate bill does not
contain the Stupak amendment that the House added on a lopsided
“The Reid language in the new Senate health care bill is not the
Stupak-Pitts language barring federal funds from going to abortion
in health care. It is the opposite of the pro-life Stupak-Pitts
language," she told LifeNews.com.
The representative of the Catholic bishops
has also blasted the pro-abortion provisions in the bill, saying
the Senate bill "is actually the worst bill we've seen so far on the
Other leading pro-life groups like Americans United for Life,
National Right to Life, the Family Research Council and Susan B.
have come to the same conclusion about the abortion funding in
the Senate bill.
Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the bishops' conference
Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, called it "completely
unacceptable," adding that "to say this reflects current law is
Senator Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, has said he would propose
an amendment similar to the Stupak amendment, to remove the
abortion funding from the legislation.
The bill has also comes under fire for raising taxes on special
needs children and their families at a time when 90 percent of
babies with disabilities are killed in abortion.
Sen. George Voinovich, an Ohio Republican, was absent from the vote
but would have voted against the Moton to Proceed and the vote was
not affected by his absence.