The defeat of an abortion-related amendment to the health care overhaul bill being debated in the U.S. Senate has some observers thinking the legislation might be in jeopardy. But Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) doesn’t think the action will stand in the way.
The measure, which was put forward by Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), was defeated on a 54-45 vote on Tuesday. That measure would have restricted access to abortion services under the health care reform legislation. It resembles an amendment put forward by Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) and included in the U.S. House version. Senator McCaskill, who opposed the Nelson effort, does not believe the overall bill is in trouble.
“I don’t sense that that’s going to happen in the Senate,” said McCaskill in a Wednesday morning conference call with Missouri radio reporters. “I can’t speak to what would happen in the House, but I think it’s important that even those people who supported Stupak realize that we’re not doing anything in this law to change the Hyde law [named for former Congressman Henry Hyde] which is that federal money can’t be used for abortions.”
McCaskill insists only private money would possibly be used to secure abortions and believes that should allow the health care overhaul effort to move forward.
“The law, as it stands right now, says no federal money for abortions,” said McCaskill. “I think most of the Senators are comfortable with that. I can’t speak to the House but it’s my sense that, if necessary, there might be another further compromise. But I don’t think that’s going to kill the bill.”
If the issue of federal funding for abortion services is already settled, why is there controversy? McCaskill says the proposals put forward on Capitol Hill go beyond the Hyde law and go to extremes.
“The Stupak amendment goes farther and the Nelson amendment goes farther,” said McCaskill. “It says that if you get any kind of help in buying insurance from the government you can’t even use your private money on a policy that has any services for abortion.”
The Senate is also focused on the public option, which had been approved by the House, but is in big trouble in the Senate. Negotiations among ten Democrats – five liberals and five moderates – produced a deal that would drop the public option from consideration.