Health Care Update: Baucus Senate Bill

Pro-Life Amendments Fail in Senate Committee

The Senate Finance Committee continued this week with the amendment process for the health care plan proposed by Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana). This bill is different from H.R. 3200, the House version of the bill, which includes both a public option and massive subsidizes for abortion through the phony “middle ground” Capps amendment. As it currently stands, the Baucus health care bill would also force taxpayer dollars to pay for abortion, by allowing federal funds to subsidize premiums on private plans that would cover elective abortion.

Although President Obama and his congressional allies have said time and time again that no federal funds will be used to cover abortion, pro-lifers on and off Capitol Hill have consistently challenged the President and his allies to then back up their promise with specific legislative language. Pro-life members of Congress, as well as pro-life activists across the country, have not been fooled by promises that the infamous Hyde amendment will apply to a national health care plan. Which it will not!

In an attempt to have specific language added to the Baucus Senate bill, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) offered two pro-life amendments which were considered by Senate Finance Committee this past Wednesday September 30th. The amendments, one which would have explicitly stated that no federal funds could go to subsidize premiums for plans that cover abortion, and the other which would have strengthened conscience protections, were both rejected by votes of 10-13.

Hatch’s first amendment would have explicitly stated that no federal monies could go to subsidize premiums for plans that cover abortion, unless the abortion was for rape, incest, or the life of the mother—concessions in-line with current federal law. The amendment was rejected in an almost pure party-line vote. Pro-abortion Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) was the only Republican to vote against the amendment and Sen. Conrad (D-N.D.) was the only Democrat to vote for it. Speaking against the amendment, Sen. Stabenow (D-Mich.) said that the amendment was “insulting” to women. Sen. Baucus added that the amendment was “discriminatory towards women” because it would force women to pay for abortions out of pocket, and would also ask women to anticipate future need for abortion coverage.

These excuses offered by Sen.’s Stabenow and Baucus do represent the majority of Americans, as is evidenced by several polls recently released.  In a Susan B. Anthony List commissioned poll taken by Public Opinion Strategies, 55% of Americans said that, regardless of their view on abortion, they thought it would be wrong for government to pay for abortions. In a larger context, a Pew poll released just yesterday, October 1, 2009, found that support for legal abortion has declined by seven percentage points since 2008. Across all demographics, support for abortion is declining. This echoes the Gallup poll taken this past summer in which the majority of Americans declared themselves to be “pro-life.”

Hatch’s second, non-discrimination amendment, would defined the right of conscience for health care providers.  The amendment protected doctors and nurses, hospitals, and health insurers in the case that they objected to  providing, performing, paying for, or referring for abortions, based on their personal beliefs.  The vote rejecting this amendment mirrored the previous vote, with the Sen.’s Snowe and Conrad again switching sides.

With the failure of the Senate to include these two amendments to the Baucus’ bill, Congress, the President, and health care allies have all essentially refused to put their money where their mouth is on the abortion mandate. While the representatives may have said one thing, their actions are completely different, and the votes speak for themselves. Without specific language banning federal dollars from going to abortions and protecting the consciences of individual citizens, health care reform will result in the largest expansion of abortions since Roe v. Wade.

Make your voice heard!

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