Nelson’s Abortion Language Unacceptable
For weeks Sen. Ben Nelson assured the pro-life community that he wouldn’t
support a health care bill unless it contained longstanding federal policy
that prohibits funding of abortion and health plans that cover abortion. He
even provided some leadership by introducing an amendment to the Senate’s
healthcare bill that, had it been adopted, would have accomplished that
Before and after that failed amendment, the pro-life movement thanked and
encouraged Sen. Nelson for his seemingly firm resolution in predicating his
support for the healthcare bill (at least in large part) on it prohibiting
funding of abortions and health plans that cover abortion.
In the end, on Dec. 19, he capitulated to pressure by the Democratic
leadership and embraced abortion funding language that would expand the
federal government’s role of enabling abortions and force citizens to pay
for others’ abortions.
In a statement issued that same day, the United States Conference of
Catholic Bishops said that this new abortion language “does not seem to
allow purchasers who exercise freedom of choice or of conscience to ‘opt
out’ of abortion coverage in federally subsidized health plans that include
“Instead it will require purchasers of such plans to pay a distinct fee or
surcharge which is extracted solely to help pay for other people’s
abortions. Further, the government agency that currently manages health
coverage for federal employees will promote and help subsidize multi-state
health plans that include elective abortions, contrary to longstanding law
governing this agency.”
Nelson defends his language by claiming it will at least prevent federal
funds from paying directly for abortions. But his claim is based on a flimsy
bookkeeping gimmick which would require all who enroll in a plan that covers
abortion (not just those who want abortion coverage) to make a separate
payment into an account that will pay for abortions.
This provision means that Americans could be forced to choose between a
health plan that doesn’t cover abortions but doesn’t fit their needs and a
plan that fits their needs but forces them to make a separate payment
specifically to pay for other people’s abortions. That would be a deplorable
situation for pro-life Americans.
The Bishops of Nebraska also issued a statement following Sen. Nelson’s vote
expressing disappointment and urging opposition to the bill as it stands
now. “We are extremely disappointed in Senator Ben Nelson’s decision to
accept language in the Senate health care bill that would expand the federal
government’s role of enabling abortions and force citizens to pay for
others’ abortions,” the Bishops said.
“Senator Nelson gave numerous public assurances that he would insist on
abortion-funding language consistent with longstanding federal policies,”
the Bishops continued. “Unfortunately, the language he accepted for the
so-called ‘manager’s amendment’ fails to fulfill these assurances.” The
Bishops concluded that “given its serious problems with abortion funding,
this Senate bill should be opposed.”
Now that the Senate passed its healthcare bill, the next step would normally
be for a “conference committee” (appointed representatives from the House
and Senate) to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate bills
and then send a final bill back to both Houses for a final vote. This will
likely happen in early January.
Thanks to Congressman Bart Stupak and a coalition of 39 pro-life House
Democrats, the House bill has strong language that prohibits funding of
elective abortions and health plans that cover abortion. Congressman Stupak
expressed strong opposition to Sen. Nelson’s abortion funding language and
said that he and his coalition of pro-life Democrats will oppose the final
healthcare bill if it doesn’t include the Stupak language.
Please pray and fast that Congressman Stupak and his coalition will not
capitulate to a likely full-court press by the Democratic leadership
pressuring them to abandon their pro-life language. And, if you haven’t
already, I urge you to express your disappointment (respectfully) to Sen.
Nelson for embracing unacceptable abortion funding language and to urge him
to oppose the final bill unless it contains the House bill’s Stupak
2013 Southern Nebraska Register Publication Dates
(Resume Jan 4, 2014)
November 27 (Wed.)