Nebraska Right to Life and pro-life Nebraskans have been betrayed by Senator Ben Nelson’s agreement with Democratic leadership to become their 60th vote for cloture on the Senate healthcare bill, propped up by abortion compromise language which in no way resembles the Stupak amendment in the House bill or the Nelson/Hatch amendment attempt in the Senate. Both of those amendments had protections against taxpayer funding of abortion.
“Senator Nelson had a chance to ensure that the longstanding principle of the Hyde Amendment against federal funding of abortion with narrow exceptions, would be placed in the Senate healthcare legislation. He dashed any hope of that with his late-night agreement with Senators Reid, Boxer and Schumer on unacceptable language that he claimed would address pro-life concerns.” said Julie Schmit-Albin, Executive Director of Nebraska Right to Life (NRL).
“Senator Nelson and his Chief of Staff, Tim Becker, called me last night at 7:30 p.m. Central time as a matter of ‘courtesy’, to let me know that he was pitching alternative language to Democratic leadership. We spoke for about 40 minutes.” said Schmit-Albin. “When I asked them at the outset of the conversation to include National Right to Life in the call they declined and said they were going with the language. Senator Nelson claimed that their newly-drafted concepts/language was Stupak-plus and that it would pass pro-life muster. When I countered that we had no assurance of that because we were not allowed to review the language, I was reminded that this was merely a courtesy call, not a call for our input or approval.”
“There is no pro-life Nebraskan more devastated by Senator Nelson’s actions than myself.” said Schmit-Albin. “I have defended his record to Nebraskans and believed that he would stand on pro-life principles as he has on numerous occasions in the past. I have had a good relationship with Senator Nelson and his staff throughout the years . I personally met with him on healthcare in July and in mid-November and have been in frequent contact with his staff over the past six weeks. Just Wednesday afternoon, I was apprised of the Casey language by his staff and I urged them to strongly relay to him that we could not support it. When he rejected the Casey language we were bolstered by that action and believed he would hold firm to his commitment to vote against cloture if Stupak language was not included.”
” Moreover, NRL Political Action Committee gave Senator Nelson a sole endorsement in his re-election race in 2006 based on his record and actions both as Governor and Senator.” said Schmit-Albin. “It is a very sobering day for myself personally and for pro-lifers across Nebraska and the nation. Senator Nelson obliterated the hope of pro-life Americans who saw him as the last man standing between expansion of government funding of abortion and the Hyde Amendment.”
“Nebraska Right to Life follows the lead of National Right to Life in opposing the passage of healthcare legislation containing such bogus abortion language and looks forward to NRLC ‘s scoring of all cloture votes on the issue.” said Schmit-Albin.