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Next Steps to Fighting Abortion in Health Care Reform

With all the twists and turns in the health care debate, we keep hearing the question: what’s next? So I wanted to take a minute and sketch out for you what we know from our meetings here in the Nation’s Capital and on the Hill.

Next week, the Senate Finance Committee is poised to vote out its health care reform bill. After that, Majority Leader Harry Reid and his allies will determine the content of the final Senate bill–and Americans want to know what’s in it. The New York Times reports that a group of centrist Democratic senators sent a letter to the majority leader, Harry Reid (D-Nevada), urging that the public be given at least 72 hours to review the legislation before debate begins on the Senate floor.

If the public does get a chance to view the bill, what it finds certainly won’t please the overwhelming majority of Americans who oppose including abortion funding in health care reform. Like the other four committees (three in the House and one in the Senate) that have reported out health care reform bills, the Senate Finance Committee failed to include language in the legislation that would adequately exclude federal funding and coverage of abortion.

Senate Finance Committee staff is already working to reconcile their bill with the bill reported out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Ultimately, however, Majority Leader Harry Reid and other members of the Democratic Party will determine the content of the final Senate bill.

Similarly, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic Leadership are working to reconcile the three different versions of the House Bill (H.R. 3200) that were reported out of the House Committees, and will therefore control the content of that bill.

Recent intelligence from the Hill indicates that a purported “compromise” on abortion funding and coverage in health care reform is in the works. The template for the language is Rep. Lois Capps’ (D-Calif.) amendment that was added to the House version of the bill (H.R. 3200) during the Energy and Commerce Committee mark-up, with similar language included in the Senate Finance Committee Bill.

But don’t be fooled: The Capps Amendment is not a compromise. In fact, it mandates abortion coverage in the public health care plan; mandates that at least one private insurance plan within a geographic area provide abortion coverage; and allows individuals to apply their affordability credits (government subsidies) to private plans that cover abortion.

The Democratic leadership plans to bring the House and Senate bills to their respective floors in mid-October, providing little if any time for pro-life members of Congress to review the legislation. In any case, the merged bill is expected to be dramatically different than the Senate Finance Committee proposal. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told Reuters:

“The real bill will be written by Democrat leaders in a closed-to-the-public conference room somewhere in the Capitol. The real bill will be another 1,000-page, trillion-dollar experiment.”

Furthermore, while pro-life members of Congress should have the opportunity to offer pro-life amendments during the floor debate, it is likely that the pro-abortion leadership will use procedural maneuvers to block the consideration of amendments that would exclude abortion coverage and funding.

Our legal team is doing everything they can to ensure that Americans understand that millions of lives, born and unborn, are at risk if Congress fails to pass a health care bill that respects life.

You are among the millions of Americans who believes that “Real Health Care Respects Life” and we are working hard for you to get your voice to Congress. But we can do much more with your help. Will you make a donation today and help us continue to spread the word about the threat of abortion in health care?

Thank you for all your support and for standing with us!