With the cooperation of ostensible pro-lifers Ben Nelson (D., Neb.) and Robert Casey Jr. (D, Penn.) the motion to bring the health care reform debate to the Senate floor was passed 60-39.  They had the chance to defeat a bill that will expand abortion, but didn’t. The relevant passages in Senator Harry Reid’s bill, HR 3590, can be found on pages 116-124 — see NRLC and AUL. The bill does not only expand abortion, but could promote doctor-assisted suicide. Casey’s allies in Democrats for Life allow themselves to be duped because they are Democrats first and pro-lifers second, but other pro-lifers cannot allow themselves to be fooled by Nelson and Casey any more. They had a chance to stand up and protect innocent human life and they did not. Nelson said he was merely allowing the debate to occur, but it was much more than that. The cloture vote was the best chance to defeat HR 3590 and it might be the only one. As Senator Jim DeMint said, “Any senator that votes to proceed to the Reid-Obama bill is voting for a government takeover of health care,” voting for every part of that bill, including pages 116-124.

The Susan B. Anthony List says, “Senators should consider themselves on notice: America is still waiting for you to strike government funded abortion from this legislation.  Votes have consequences, and if this health care bill makes it to conference committee without an authentic abortion exclusion, Senators Casey, Landrieu, Lincoln, Nelson and Reid will be held especially accountable.” Dorinda C. Bordlee, senior counsel of Bioethics Defense Fund, said Reid can play political games to get his bill passed now:

If Senator Reid succeeds in getting 60 votes allowing the debate to proceed, then that is a filibuster-proof majority. This could very well clear the way for Reid to employ other procedural moves that allow him to substitute his massive bill into another shell bill and call for a vote on final passage, which requires only 51 votes to succeed. In other words, success on the Motion to Proceed would open up the opportunity for Reid to force a vote on health-care reform before any pro-life amendments or substitute bills could be offered.

Debate in the Senate begins on Monday. It did not have to be.

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