The Wall Street Journal, Washington Examiner and Politico both had stories over the past couple of days on how abortion could derail health care reform. It appears that Senators Ben Nelson (D, Neb.) and Orrin Hatch (R, Utah) will introduce an amendment similar to Rep. Bart Stupak (D, Mich.) to prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion, perhaps as early as today. There are a handful of liberal, pro-abortion senators like Barbara Mikulski (D, Maryland) who will likely vote against a bill that explicitly bans abortion funding. Senator Nelson has been unclear about his intentions regarding voting for or against the bill if his amendment is defeated. A close reading of the Politico story by Carrie Budoff Brown makes it unclear what Nelson will do, with Democrat leaders indicating they will find a compromise which will bring Nelson on board. Nelson is quoted saying, “I don’t want to start talking about compromises before I have an opportunity to offer something.” Democrats need Nelson’s vote to prevent a filibuster that would effectively defeat the proposed health care legislation. Other ostensibly pro-life Democrats like Bob Casey Jr. (D, Penn) may end up voting for Harry Reid’s abortion health care bill regardless, so Nelson is the best hope right now in securing victory.
If somehow this unamended bill passes the Senate — which to be clear, will require the acquiescence of Nelson and Casey and every other pro-life or ‘moderate’ Democrat — it must be reconciled in conference with the House bill which includes the Stupak amendment. If the pro-life language is removed, there are 30-40Democrats in the House that will seriously consider not voting for health care reform, enough to kill the bill. If the pro-life language is intact, an equal number of pro-abortion Congressmen have been pressured by the abortion lobby to oppose the bill. Either way, Obamacare is probably dead.
The companies and individuals who value freedom and write out big checks to libertarian think tanks and causes should consider giving a very large donation to the National Right to Life Committee, other pro-life organizations and their political allies like Bart Stupak. By making health care reform as much about abortion as health care, the pro-life movement in the United States has led to the defeat of Obamacare. That’s not laying blame, but observing a victory worth celebrating and giving credit where credit is due.
Oswald Clark is the economics reporter of The Interim and an Ottawa and Boston based economist.