Senator Ben Nelson (D, Neb.) has been joined by Senators Orrin Hatch (R, Utah) and Robert Casey Jr. (D, Penn) in introducing an amendment to the Senate health care bill designed to prohibit direct taxpayer funding of abortion and restrict indirect subsidies to private insurance plans that cover abortion. coverage of the amendment is here. reports that seven other Republicans have attached their names to the amendment. My two cents: it doesn’t go quite as far as the Stupak amendment and is a little too modest in that it needed to do more to restrict private insurance plans that pay for abortions from getting any taxpayer subsidies. Money is fungible, so although the language in the amendment seems to require that portion of coverage to be hived off separately, it still frees up insurance company money to pay for abortions. I doubt that this legislative modesty is going to win over any vote a more aggressive amendment would have garnered. It is quite likely that this compromise was necessary to bring Senator Casey on board. I think that the final Senate vote is too close to call, but there will be a lot of strong-arming over the next few days.

Senator Nelson has a press release that includes the full text of the amendment. Here is the text of Senator Nelson’s speech from the floor of the Senate.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have released a fact sheet on the Nelson-Hatch-Casey amendment.

The National Right to Life Committee has informed senators that they will make this a scorecard vote.

The Susan B. Anthonly List supports the Nelson-Hatch-Casey amendment.

While this has nothing to do with the amendment itself, it should be noted that as the Wall Street Journal reports, Senator Nelson’s objections to Obamacare go beyond taxpayer funding of abortion. He is generally concerned with a government takeover of health care.

Oswald Clark is the economics reporter of The Interim and an Ottawa and Boston based economist.