by Max Brantley
Sen. Ben Nelson's amendment to make the Senate health bill as bad as the House bill on abortion by pushing government limits on abortion into the business of private insurance companies has been tabled on a 54-45 vote. Judging frrom the instant Republican shrieks, Sen. Blanche Lincoln has stayed good to her word not to allow the Congress to further weaken abortion rights with this legislation.
One Republican candidate, Gilbert Baker, worked the words "life" or "pro-life" seven times into an 11-line statement claiming erroneously, that Lincoln essentially opened the door to taxpayer-financed abortions by voting to table this anti-woman, anti-choice amendment.
The question now is less about abortion and more about whether Nelson will follow through with his threat to filibuster the legislation if he didn't get his way on abortion.
NOTE: Mark Pryor voted, as he often does, to further limit women's access to abortions.
UPDATE: Lincoln's statement on jump.
Washington – U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) today made the following statement regarding her vote on the Nelson amendment. The Senate Finance Committee bill that Sen. Lincoln helped draft – as well as H.R. 3590 that is currently being debated on the Senate floor – both went to great lengths to ensure that pending health insurance reform legislation adheres to current law, which prohibits federal funds from being used for abortion except in the cases of rape, incest and when the life of the mother is at risk. The Nelson amendment goes beyond current law to impose significant new restrictions on abortion.
“I support common sense health insurance reform that would improve women’s access to prenatal care and healthy childbearing services and believe it is important to prevent unintended pregnancies through education, personal responsibility, and contraception services,” Lincoln said.
“Unfortunately, the Nelson amendment would impose significant new restrictions by banning private health insurance companies that wish to sell their policies through health insurance exchanges from covering abortion, as they do today, even when that coverage could only be financed through private premium dollars.
“I supported the Finance Committee health plan, which went to great lengths to preserve, not expand or limit, existing law that prohibits federal funding for abortion with exceptions for victims of rape and incest and when the life of the mother is at risk.”