Sunday, December 20, 2009

Health Care Compromise on Abortion Angers Both Sides

NY Times: Abortion Compromise Draws Fire From Both Sides, by Katharine Q. Seelye:

The abortion compromise in the Senate has angered advocates on both sides of the issue.

Senator Ben Nelson, the Nebraska Democrat, had been holding up the Senate health care bill until he was satisfied with new anti-abortion language, which was made public on Saturday by the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada.

The National Right to Life Committee issued a statement saying it “strongly opposes” the abortion language.

The National Organization for Women also issued a statement strongly opposing the language. And in a second statement, more heated and personal, Terry O’Neill, president of NOW, said she was outraged that the Senate Democratic leadership “would cave in to Senator Ben Nelson.”

“Right-wing ideologues like Nelson and the Catholic Bishops may not understand this, but abortion is health care,” Ms. O’Neill said. “And health care reform is not true reform if it denies women coverage for the full range of reproductive health services.”

If this language stays in the bill as is, she said, she would call on senators “who consider themselves friends of women’s rights” to vote against “this cruelly over-compromised legislation.”. . .

See also: Wash. Post: To sway Nelson, a hard-won compromise on abortion issue, by Paul Kane:

The Democrats wouldn't even sit in the same room.

At one end of the majority leader's office, Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), the antiabortion senator whose support was crucial to health-care legislation, huddled with White House staff in a conference room. At the other end, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the chamber's leading advocates of abortion rights, hunkered as far from Nelson as possible, in the office of Reid's chief of staff. . . .

But by 10:30 p.m. Friday, a handshake deal sealed a hard-won compromise over abortion. Within minutes senators were on the phone with Obama, who was flying aboard Air Force One, having just forged his compromise with world leaders on global warming, according to senators and aides who participated in the negotiations. "We did it, Mr. President," Reid told Obama.

The deal faced an immediate assault from both ends of the abortion spectrum Saturday morning. The National Organization of Women dubbed it "cruelly over-compromised legislation" and the antiabortion Family Research Council dismissed it as a "phony compromise."

Wall St. Journal: Abortion Continues to Be Dividing Issue, by Janet Adamy:

The Senate nudged its health bill toward tighter restrictions on abortion coverage, a change that left advocates on both sides of the issue unsatisfied.

Under a deal with Sen. Ben Nelson, women who receive a new tax credit to buy insurance would write a separate check with their own money for abortion coverage, and states would explicitly have the option of barring such coverage from plans sold on new insurance exchanges. However, the language is less sweeping than that adopted by the House in November, which abortion-rights groups interpreted as the most significant setback in Congress for their cause in many years.

Abortion, Congress, Politics | Permalink

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