The Senate Financial Services Committee rejected an amendment today that was presented by Senator Orin Hatch to keep abortion out of Senator Max Baucus' "America's Health Future Act of 2009." The Hatch amendment also would have codified current conscience protections into the health bill.
Senator Hatch's abortion funding amendment would have kept federal funds from paying for abortions or plans that cover abortion, but it would also not prevent women from obtaining their own separate abortion policies if they choose to do so.
Hatch's amendment failed by a 13-10 vote, with one Republican, Olympia Snowe of Maine voting with the majority and one Democrat, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, supporting Hatch.
The Baucus legislation explicitly includes elective abortion and would subsidize health plans that cover all elective abortions. It would also undermine current conscience protections by not protecting health insurers from being forced to cover elective abortions.
Tony Perkins from the Family Research Council reacted to the vote, saying, “by defeating Senator Orin Hatch's amendment on abortion funding we once again see Democrat leaders determined to create massive new government subsidies for plans that include abortion on demand.”
According to Perkins, without the Hatch amendment, “the Baucus bill creates a back-door way around the Hyde Amendment by subsidizing plans that cover abortion. Moreover, by rejecting Senator Hatch's conscience protection amendment, the Baucus bill would undermine current protections in the annual Hyde/Weldon appropriations provision that provide protections for health plans that refuse to cover abortion.”
“Rather than maintain the status quo on abortion funding or conscience rights,” Perkins said, “the Baucus bill will greatly increase the number of abortions in our country and offer fewer protections for health plans that refuse to cover elective abortion. This isn't the status quo, it's a pro-abortion expansion.”
The Senate Finance Committee's decision could threaten support for the health care bill from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and most Catholics, who oppose federal funding of abortion but back the idea of expanding health care coverage.