Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill
has joined with U.S. Senate leaders to kill a proposal which would have prohibited abortion coverage in the proposed federal health
care plan. McCaskill voted to shelve discussion of an amendment offered by Senator Ben Nelson
of Nebraska and Senator Orrin Hatch
of Utah which would have prevented federal health care dollars from being used to pay for abortions.
McCaskill had promised during a town hall meeting in Jefferson County over the summer that she would not vote for a health care bill that included abortion funding provisions. Yet she now says that the pro-life amendment "goes too far," and insists that failure to pass the pro-abortion health care measure "is not an option."
McCaskill claims that the Nelson-Hatch amendment would have banned the use of "private money in a private market for any kind of health services related to abortions." Yet that is not at all true. The amendment clearly states that
individuals can purchase separate supplemental coverage for abortions through insurance company riders.
What the Nelson-Hatch amendment does do is prohibit the inclusion of coverage of abortion services in the government-run "public option" health care plan (now called the community health insurance option). It also prohibits coverage of abortion in any private insurance policy which is subsidized by federal tax credits under the Health Insurance Exchange
created by the bill.
However, individuals could obtain abortion coverage through supplemental insurance which is paid for entirely with their own funds. This arrangement would be similar to a Missouri statute adopted in 1983. That law states that no health insurance policies can be issued in the state that provide coverage for elective abortions "except by an optional rider for which there must be paid an additional premium."
The pro-life amendment would also have provided that no health benefits plan can discriminate against health care
providers or facilities because of their unwillingness to provide, pay for, or refer for abortions. There are currently no conscience protections in the Senate health care proposal. Senator Hatch
has pushed hard to establish conscience clause provisions.
The Nelson-Hatch pro-life amendment was nearly identical to the Stupak Amendment, which was adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives on their version of the health care bill. The Nelson-Hatch Amendment was tabled by a vote of 54-45. Missouri's other U.S. Senator, Kit Bond, voted to continue discussion of the amendment.
As things stand, the Senate bill pushed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to include abortion coverage in the government-run plan. This would almost assuredly happen,
since HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
is an ardent supporter of abortion on demand. Even if she were not a strong advocate of abortion, it still would almost certainly happen because her boss, President Barack Obama, promised Planned Parenthood that "reproductive health care" would be a centerpiece of his health care reform efforts.
Even if the so-called "public option" is abandoned, as seems increasingly likely, it appears that pro-abortion forces have a back-up plan. The Senate adopted an amendment by Senator Barbara Mikulski
of Maine that
requires that all health insurance plans include "preventative care," and leaves it to the Obama Administration to define what that means. Mikulski pushed a similar amendment in committee, and acknowledged that her concept of "reproductive health care" included abortion.
The Reid bill still requires that private insurance plans offer abortion coverage in every region of the country, and these plans would be subsidized by federal tax dollars. While abortion has been legal in this country for nearly 37 years, taxpayer money has never been used to finance abortions, regardless of the political party in power.
If Senator Reid is able to win passage of some form of health care bill in his chamber, the major showdown will occur in the conference committee between the House and Senate. Democratic leaders will have to decide whether to accept the pro-life language of the Stupak Amendment in the House or risk the entire proposal going down to defeat.
While Senator McCaskill makes no bones about the fact that she is a "pro-choice" Democrat, there was a slender of hope that she might actually stand with Missourians and the
vast majority of Americans who strongly oppose federal funds being used to kill unborn children. Instead, she has abandoned her promise to the people of Missouri and demonstrated once again her wholesale allegiance to the abortion industry and pro-abortion lobbyists.
You can let Senator McCaskill know how you feel about her vote against the pro-life amendment by sending her an e-mail through her Senate website:
You can thank Senator Bond for his vote in support of the Nelson-Hatch Amendment by contacting him through his Senate website: