Washington (CNN) - In a sign that the wrenching House debate over abortion is already vexing Senate Democrats, Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson told CNN Monday he will vote against any health care bill that does not include the strict abortion restrictions that passed the House.
"If there's public money going to fund abortions, I can't support it, period, no matter what else is in it," said Nelson, a staunchly anti-abortion Democrat.
The House approved a health care bill Saturday night that prohibits abortion coverage in a government-run plan, and in private plans that accept anyone using government subsidies to buy insurance coverage. People would be permitted to by supplemental coverage with their own money that includes covers abortions.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, a leading abortion rights voice in the Senate, told CNN Monday that approach was "radical" and "unfair to women," and said she will meet with a group of female senators Tuesday to start looking for a way to limit abortion restrictions in the Senate health care bill.
"We want to make sure we don't deny women the opportunity to avail themselves of a totally legal procedure," Boxer told CNN in a phone interview. "We believe this is unfair to women, it singles them out as a group. There is no other procedure in this bill that is denied."
With Boxer's Democratic colleague from Nebraska, Ben Nelson, just as adamantly opposed to a health care bill without strict abortion prohibitions, it appears the Democratic abortion divide in the Senate is threatening to derail its health bill - just as it almost did in the House.
Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus admitted it is going to be hard, but Democrats will be working around the clock to find a middle ground on abortion. "We will be burning the creative midnight oil," Baucus said.
House Democratic leaders only agreed late Friday night to allow a Saturday vote on the abortion amendment, after it became clear there were enough anti-abortion Democrats demanding it that their health care bill would fail without it.
Most House Democrats in favor of abortion rights voted for the health care bill despite the abortion restrictions they vehemently oppose.
However, more than 40 of those Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to the House Speaker Monday threatening to block the health care bill from going to the president's desk if the abortion restrictions are not eased.