The issue of federal funding of abortion may throw a monkey wrench into the Obamacare debate this week. As early as today, Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) are expected to offer something very similar to Congressman Bart Stupak’s (D-MI) amendment to extend the current ban on federally funded abortion to Obamacare. If, and only if, members of the Senate properly protect their procedural rights during this debate, this amendment may make it impossible for the bill to reach President Obama’s desk by January.
Once Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) files the Nelson-Hatch amendment, pro-abortion Senators in the Democratic caucus like Claire McCaskill (D-MO) will have a difficult decision to make: Do they vote for cloture, ending debate, and allowing an up-or-down vote on the Nelson-Hatch amendment, or do they vote for a filibuster? If they end debate and allow the vote, it is likely, maybe even probable, that 51 other Senators will vote in favor of the taxpayer-abortion-funding ban.
Once the abortion funding ban is in the bill, it will be next to impossible for pro-abortion forces to get it out. They will be in the same exact position House progressives were when Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) forced them to accept the Stupak language or lose Obamacare entirely. Progressives in the House completely caved the first time around, but more strident pro-abortion members like Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) have promised that the second time they will stand up for their principles and vote down any Obamacare bill that contains any Stupak like language.
But even if DeGette and McCaskill get their way and Obamacare does allow taxpayer dollars to pay for elective abortions, then pro-life House Democrats may end up voting against the bill. No matter what happens with the Nelson-Hatch Amendment in the Senate, the abortion issue may complicate the roadmap to a signing ceremony for those who desire Obamacare.