November 19th, 2009
06:24 PM ET
5 years ago

Abortion rights opponents rip Senate health care bill

Washington (CNN) - Abortion rights opponents made clear Thursday that they are adamantly against language regarding coverage for reproductive services in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's health care bill.

"Senator Reid's bill provides for an unprecedented expansion of federally funded abortion," said Charmaine Yoest, head of the group Americans United for Life. "The majority of Americans who oppose federal funding of abortion will not stand for policies that force them into paying for abortions under the guise of health care reform."

The Senate plan would allow abortion coverage through privately funded premiums in both a government-run public insurance option and private plans purchased with the assistance of government subsidies.

The more conservative House of Representatives plan, in contrast, would bar abortion coverage under both the public option and private policies purchased with government subsidies. House Democratic leaders opposed the measure, but added it to win critical support from anti-abortion members.


Both plans would allow for exceptions in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is in danger.

Abortion opponents have rallied around the House language. Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, co-author of the language adopted by the House, claimed Thursday that the Senate measure would "mandate abortion coverage for the first time in history."

GOP Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska said the abortion language in the Senate bill "satisfies no one." He also said a Senate vote on whether to open floor debate on the bill - now slated for Saturday - will be a "key vote for the pro-life community."

The leaders of the 40-member Republican Senate caucus have vowed to try to block the bill, requiring Reid to round up 60 votes in the 100 member chamber to overcome a filibuster and launch debate.

"We don't need 40 Democrats to stand up," Johanns said. "We just need one."

Democratic leaders have been walking a political tightrope on the abortion issue in recent weeks. Abortion opponents warn they have the votes to oppose a bill if necessary; abortion rights supporters were infuriated by what they saw as a sellout of core Democratic Party principles in the House.

"Health care reform must not be misused as an opportunity to restrict women's access to reproductive health services," 90 House Democrats opposed to the amended abortion language wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama last week.

In an example of the complicated politics of the issue, all but one of the House Democrats who signed the letter had voted to pass the overall health care bill even though it contained the amendment they opposed.

Their strategy now is to work with Obama and Senate Democrats to prevent inclusion of the language of the House amendment in a final health care bill.


Filed under: Abortion • Health care • Senate
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. CNN afraid of a liberal post

    I have to say this. A congress person is elected to do the will of the people. They want a health bill and they want (a majority) to have abortion options. Now a congress person does not have the right to vote against this because it is not their belief.

    Since they were not elected to do what THEY want but what the PEOPLE want, then they should resign if they don't like abortion. The people in their state should confront them and say YOU LIED...

    November 19, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  2. bob in LA

    What the healthcare bill does is turn the clock back 10 years to pre-bush/ Repulbican controlled congress.
    Abortion funding was done away with during the early years of the Bush administration. They replaced abortion with execution of our military personnel.
    At least with abortion, the woman makes the decision about her body and she has a choice. When was the last time someone in the military had a choice to say they didn't want to go to war?

    November 19, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  3. LacrosseDad

    Keep up the good work Sen. Reid, devide America for your own personal gain.

    November 19, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  4. Robin

    You want an abortion. Fine, it is your concience and your PRIVATE decision. So don't expect for PUBLIC funds to pay for your irresponsibility.

    I do agree with exceptions for incest and risk of mother's life.

    November 19, 2009 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  5. gary davis Harbor Oregon proud american

    these aren't abortion opponents, they are consevative republicans . who think there rich leaders might have to caugh up some tax money on there wealth . off the backs of the bottom of the pile of wealth .. I have never been wealthy enough to be a real republican .nor has the majority of people in this country who think they are republicans . they are just pawns being used by the ultra wealthy racist republicans .. and if PALIN sells enough books she can be one of the few the smug the republican war machine.. they make me sick to my stomach and are a shame to be in the same country with . oh and the health insurance industry , it makes me laugh to think we might take away the control the insurance industry has over all of us ,and get a public option that is close to medicare or social security ..
    wouldn't that be a hoot :) this country taking back control

    November 19, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  6. Gerry

    If a woman want's an abortion that is her business, but I should not be forced to pay for the abortion. Does anyone know how many abortions a woman can have, or is as many as you want. Harry Reid is NUTS.

    November 19, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  7. brian

    If they don't want to pay for a health care bill that allows for women to make a choice, can I get a 10 to 25 percent decrease in taxes since I am gay and I don't have the same rights as other Americans?

    Enough is enough, I want the same rights as everyone else!

    I don't believe in war either, so can I get all my tax money back?

    November 19, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  8. mjm

    Nice headline....Abortion rights opponents. Not Pro Life rights? Or Right to Life? Slant left much?

    40 republicans vow to block the bill because it's an $849,000,000,000 disaster waiting to happen. Abortion has nothing to do with it.

    There has to be some democratic Senators smart enough to see that we can't afford this. Republicans can't stop this by themselves.

    Of course, they can vote to cut off funding in 2010 when Republicans are back in power.

    November 19, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  9. Lynn

    Those who oppose abortions, please sign up to adopt and raise a child the mother is unable to.

    November 19, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  10. GI Joe

    (Don't forget to donate your 10% so they can have gold plated everything).

    November 19, 2009 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  11. floridian

    Every thing in this health care bill is pointed at only one thing - Democratic re-elections in 2010 by catering to the numerous "entitled constituencies". Again, it continues to promolgate class warfare, it runs counter to the majority of Americans' wants, and it provides false costs/savings thru the use of the sleaziest of accounting techniques. Follow the votes and then vote them out of office America.

    November 19, 2009 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  12. JimCA

    What a load. The bill expressly prohibits federal funding for abortions under three different accounting standards.

    Insurance companies need to keep any premiums that would pay for abortion coverage as separate funds, and they have to prove that those premiums by themselves are sufficient to cover all abortion-related expenses.

    Yet another campaign of lies from the right wing. Have they no honor?

    November 19, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  13. They call me "tater salad"

    This Charmaine character is so far off the mark on this, it's almost kinda funny! If she actually had a clue ( which she obviously doesn't) she would know that there are already laws in place that prevent any Federal money being used to pay for abortions!......But, what do you expect a right-wing imbecile to say these days,.....something smart?!?.......Yeah!........Like thats ever gonna happen. HA!

    November 19, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  14. Kevin in Ohio

    This is simple..... abortions are elective.... they should not be covered. And definitely not paid for by my tax dollars.

    November 19, 2009 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  15. S Callahan

    I have my poster made...just need the place to meet....

    I am so sick and tired of the slap in your face from politicans that KNOW they are on the way out. You have spite the face of God, the creator of all life, way too many times...his wrath is deserving on you!
    Over 50% of the public has CLEARLY said NO ABORTION PAYMENTS WITH FEDERAL FUNDS, INCLUSIVE OF ANY FEDERAL MONIES SUPPORTED PRIAVATE OPTION OR PLAN....that should be large enough to read, don't you think. This is no joke on the public...people are enraged of the stupidity of our PUBLIC represenatives....GET IT RIGHT!!!

    November 19, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  16. g ontario

    don,t think the united states will ever get along i say stop abortion and hand unwanted children over to the republicans party

    November 19, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  17. JP

    If a woman can't afford an abortion has anyone one figured out how much it costs taxpayers in welfare, healthcare, food stamps, and often times prison costs. Let all the people who are against abortion pay a surcharge on their taxes for he above services. Any bill that has no tort reform is a joke. Who is more important the tax payer or the rial lawyers.

    November 19, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  18. TD

    If abortions are federally funded that would mean part of the money I pay to the government would fund this. I don't want That blood on my hands.
    TD

    November 19, 2009 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  19. Emrys

    It's perfectly the place for such legislature. A bill designed to enhance quality of life should also include within it an attempt to protect life. It most definitively does not infringe upon women's rights, it merely tries to extend the rights of life to women who may not have received it in the first place...unborn ones (and don't forget the young men who would appreciate a few breathes of air, thank you muchly).

    November 19, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  20. Nestor, Austin, TX

    Abortion rights opponents???? How about infanticide opponents? People against the murder of children? Abortion "rights" is the right to murder the innocent.

    November 19, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  21. mike

    I guess they haven't heard of the supreme court decision on abortion
    talk about socialism lets mandate that all pro-life people adopt the
    unwanted babies and that they will be responsible for there healthcare
    for the rest of there lives

    November 19, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  22. dustin

    If they can control where their tax dollars go to, then i don't want my tax dollars going to iraq or afghanistan unless it involves bringing troops home.

    November 19, 2009 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  23. Jim in New Mexico

    Baby murder advocates rip Senate healthcare bill. Take responsibility for the "real choice" you made when you were careless enough to have inadequately protected sex. Don't ask the government to remove the consequence of your bad "choice."

    November 19, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  24. Brook E. Mantia

    I am morally opposed to alot of stupid, objectionable things my tax dollars get spent on - but do I have a choice ??? What makes these people think they have a right to pick and choose? And it always makes me cringe when war-mongers & death-penalty advocates make noises about being "pro-life." Hypocrites!!!

    November 19, 2009 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  25. Debbie

    It's pretty simple. Any representative of mine that votes to take away my rights as a female I will not vote for in re-election. For any representative to do so is their declaring a religion because science cannot prove that "life" begins at conception. Do cells grow? Yes but then so do tumor cells. The 1st amendment of the Constituion says the government cannot promote any religion. Pro-choice is not preventing any other from practicing their faith but anti-choice prevents me from practicing mine.

    November 19, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
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