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Timeline: Abortion in the U.S. Senate Health Care Bill

11/18/09 – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) unveiled the U.S. Senate’s health care reform bill. The bill includes pro-abortion language and mirrors the false compromise Capps Amendment from the House debate, it allows the public option to include abortion coverage and provides federal subsidies for private plans which cover abortion.

  • CNN (11/19/09): Americans United for Life president and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest’s warns that “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.”
  • AUL’s legislative arm AUL Action sends note to pro-life activists in Nebraska to contact Sen. Nelson about the cloture vote. (11/19/09)
  • AUL “finds that the Senate bill does not include the Stupak-Pitts amendment from the House bill, which would prohibit federal funding of abortion, except in the case of rape, incest and danger to the mother’s life.” National Catholic Register (11/20/09)
  • Dr. Yoest explains abortion in the Senate bill to the G. Gordon Liddy Show. (11/20/09)
  • World magazine reports on Dr. Yoest’s assessment of the U.S. House health vote of the Stupak-Pitts amendment,The fact that there really is a bipartisan consensus for life in the House, and that it reflects the views of mainstream America, has rocked the political establishment.” (11/20/09)

11/21/09U.S. Senate begins discussion of the pro-abortion provisions in Majority Leader Reid’s health care reform bill and votes 60-39 on cloture, a party-line vote, to begin debate on Majority Leader Reid’s anti-life health care reform bill.  Senate leaves for Thanksgiving break to return on Monday, November 30th to begin the debate and amendment process on health bill.

  • Sen. Orrin Hatch reads Americans United for Life’s legislative arm AUL Action’s score letter on the floor of the U.S. Senate. (click here for video)
  • AUL tells Baptist Press that the vote on cloture was a “pro-abortion vote.”
  • Life News: “The bill allows the HHS Secretary to require coverage of any and all abortions through the public option, creates new federally-funded subsidies for private health plans that cover abortion, and requires every insurance market to include a private plan that covers abortion, Dr. Yoest explained.” (11/21/09)

11/23/09Catholic News Agency reports on AUL’s description of “the Senate bill as providing for an ‘unprecedented’ expansion of federally funded abortion. [Dr. Yoest] charged that the legislation moves towards redefining abortion as health care, fails to protect the consciences of medical providers and fails to prohibit federal funding of assisted suicide.”

11/24/09AUL Staff Counsel Mary Harned tells Focus on the Family radio about the abortion provisions in the Senate bill, “There’s a provision to allow a public option to include abortion coverage,” she said. “There’s also a provision that allows federal subsidies to go to private insurance plans that include abortion coverage, and there’s a provision that ensures there’s at least one private plan in every coverage area that includes abortion.”

11/25/09 – Abortion lobby and pro-life groups continue debate over what is the “status quo” of abortion in health care reform.  Canada’s Life and Family newspaper The Interim refers to Dr. Yoest’s Wall Street Journal op-ed discussing settled law on abortion, “the only honest way to maintain the status quo” in which no taxpayer dollars go to pay for abortions, either directly or indirectly, “is to add a (permanent) provision modeled after the Hyde Amendment to any health care reform that becomes law.”

11/29/09NY Times reports on the changing attitudes toward abortion and Dr. Yoest is quoted, “Not only is this the post-Roe generation, I’d also call it the post-sonogram generation.”

11/30/09 The U.S. Senate begins debate about Majority Leader Reid’s health care bill.

12/2/09 – Abortion rights activists including Planned Parenthood and NARAL lobbied lawmakers in an effort to torpedo the Stupak amendment and any pro-life language in health care being debated in the Senate.

  • Fox News: “By confusing abortion with health care, the feminist groups and the abortion lobby actually demean women with their argument that the destruction of unborn children is essential to feminine power,” said Charmaine Yoest, president and chief executive of Americans United for Life. (12/2/09)

12/3/09Senate accepted the Mikulski (D-Md) amendment to the Senate health care bill by a vote of 61-39.  Under this amendment, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) could categorize abortion as “preventive care,” and would therefore recommend coverage for abortion by all private plans.  The recommendation would force private plans to offer abortion coverage.

  • AUL’s Staff Counsel Mary Harned analyzes “The Murkowski v. The Mikulski Amendment.“ (12/3/09)
  • Planned Parenthood’s President Cecile Richards applauds the passing of the Mikulski amendment, “More than 90 percent of the care Planned Parenthood affiliate health centers provide is primary and preventive.” (U.S. News & World Report 12/3/09)
  • AUL staff attorney Mary Harned says the Mikulski amendment “requires group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance to provide coverage for and not impose cost sharing requirements on ‘preventative care’ for women ‘as provided for in comprehensive guidelines supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).” (CBN David Brody File 12/3/09)
  • AUL’s Mary Harned tells Life News, “the Mikulski Amendment should be amended to include language prohibiting abortion from being included in the HRSA guidelines.” (12/2/09)
  • Catholic News Agency: “If the HRSA categorizes abortion as preventive care, it would recommend coverage for abortion by all private plans and force them to offer abortion coverage. [AUL Staff Counsel Mary Harned] charged that this would further ‘the abortion lobby’s agenda of mainstreaming abortion as health care.'”
  • Christian Post reports that AUL wants “to see clear language prohibiting abortion” in preventive care. (12/4/09)
  • Baptist Press: “Abortion is not ‘preventive care,'” said Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life. “In this amendment, Sen. Mikulski apparently intends to expand abortion services under the guise of mandated preventive care. This deceptive tactic underscores the need for an amendment that explicitly prohibits the government from mandating that private insurance companies cover abortion under the guise of ‘preventive care.'”

12/3/09 – Rumors that Sen. Nelson’s Stupak-like amendment will be released and voted on as soon as Friday.

  • Senator Nelson said Thursday he will filibuster any health care bill without Stupak amendment-like language. (12/3/09)
  • Washington Post (12/4/09): “Reid’s game plan is to let Nelson’s amendment to come to a vote, where it would presumably fail, allowing the leader to encourage immediate negotiations on alternative approaches.”
  • When Sen. Nelson sought more time to present his pro-life provision, Dr. Yoest responded, “Delay is always good.” Politico (12/4/09)

12/6/09 – Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin tells “Fox News Sunday” that the abortion vote in the Senate could happen Monday.