Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska says he will vote in favor of health care reform, effectively giving Democrats the 60th vote needed to pass the proposed legislation. But of course, his vote comes with a price.
Nelson's vote was swayed by an amendment to the bill the "abortion language" in an amendment to the bill (which you can read in full here) that essentially gives states the right to prohibit the use of federal funds toward abortion:
''SEC. 1303. SPECIAL RULES.
(a) STATE OPT-OUT OF ABORTION COVERAGE.— ''(1) IN GENERAL.—A State may elect to prohibit abortion coverage in qualified health plans offered through an Exchange in such State if such State enacts a law to provide for such prohibition. (2) TERMINATION OF OPT OUT.— A State may repeal a law described in paragraph (1) and provide for the offering of such services through the Exchange.
(b) SPECIAL RULES RELATING TO COVERAGE OF ABORTION SERVICES.—(1) VOLUNTARY CHOICE OF COVERAGE OF ABORTION SERVICES.— (A) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding any other provision of this title (or any amendment made by this title)— (i) nothing in this title (or any amendment made by this title), shall be construed to require a qualified health plan to provide coverage of services described in subparagraph (B)(i) or (B)(ii) as part of its essential health benefits for any plan year; and ''(ii) subject to subsection (a), the issuer of a qualified health plan shall determine whether or not the plan provides coverage of services described in subparagraph (B)(i) or (B)(ii) as part of such benefits for the plan year.
'(B) ABORTION SERVICES.— (i) ABORTIONS FOR WHICH PUBLIC FUNDING IS PROHIBITED.—The services described in this clause are abortions for which the expenditure of Federal funds appropriated for the Department of Health and Human Services is not permitted, based on the law as in effect as of the date that is 6 months before the beginning of the plan year involved.
(ii) ABORTIONS FOR WHICH PUBLIC FUNDING IS ALLOWED.—The services described in this clause are abortions for which the expenditure of Federal funds appropriated for the Department of Health and Human Services is permitted, based on the law as in effect as of the date that is 6 months before the beginning of the plan year involved.
"I know this is hard for some of my colleagues to accept and I appreciate their right to disagree. But I would not have voted for this bill without these provisions," Nelson says. Naturally, anti-choice advocates are already celebrating: "I think he's drawn a line in the sand," Nebraska Right to Life director Julie Schmit-Albin tells the Associated Press, "The guy is standing by himself right now. It's incredibly courageous ... and we want to thank him for that." Yes! Thank you so, so much, Senator Nelson & Co. It's just so wonderful to see all of this health care "progress" being made by throwing women's rights and access to legal medical procedures under the bus. How courageous of all of you! USA! USA!
Abortion Opponents Watching Nelson On Health Care [AP]
Nelson Supports Health Bill After Tough Bargaining [AP]
Schumer: We've Reached A Deal With Nelson [TalkingPointsMemo]
Democrats Say They Clinch Deal On Health Care Overhaul [NYTimes]