Yesterday, the Senate defeated the anti-choice Nelson-Hatch amendment to the health insurance reform bill by a vote of 54-45. Prior to the vote, 16 Senators spoke out on the floor against the amendment, including Senators Max Baucus (D-MT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Dodd (D-CT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Patty Murray (D-WA), Harry Reid (D-NV), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Arlen Specter (D-PA), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
The extreme anti-choice amendment introduced by Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), mirrored the Stupak-Pitts amendment in the House bill and sought to virtually ban abortion coverage for both the public option and private plans in the to-be-created national health insurance exchange. Women would not have even been able to purchase coverage with their own dollars.
In his floor speech to the Senate prior to the vote (see video), Senate Majority Leader Reid said, “I don’t believe that the Senate needs to go as far as this amendment would take us. No one should use the healthcare bill to expand or restrict abortion. No one should use the issue of abortion to rob millions of the opportunity to get good healthcare. This is not the right place for this debate. We have to get on with the larger issue at hand. We have to keep moving toward the finish line and cannot be distracted by detours or derailed by diversions.”