Critical Condition

Saturday Night Fights

Where I’m from, Saturday nights are for dining out and visiting with friends. But Saturday nights on Capitol Hill seem to be the leadership’s favorite night to quietly cast votes that have the potential of dwarfing the abortion numbers of Roe v. Wade.

Tomorrow night at 8 p.m., the Senate will vote on a “Motion to Proceed.” If Senator Reid succeeds in getting 60 votes allowing the debate to proceed, then that is a filibuster-proof majority. This could very well clear the way for Reid to employ other procedural moves that allow him to substitute his massive bill into another shell bill and call for a vote on final passage, which requires only 51 votes to succeed. In other words, success on the Motion to Proceed would open up the opportunity for Reid to force a vote on health-care reform before any pro-life amendments or substitute bills could be offered.

Senate Majority Leader Reid’s 2,074 page health-care-reform bill can be viewed here. The relevant abortion language in the Reid bill is on pages 116 through 124. The pro-life Stupak-Pitts language is not reflected in the Senate bill. Instead, a variation on the phony scheme of the House Capps amendment is included. Pro-abortion Rep. Lois Capps (D., Calif.) has issued a statement saying, “It appears their [Reid] approach closely mirrors my language which was originally included in the House bill.” Pro-abortion Senator Barbara Boxer has given her endorsement to the language saying, “Senator Reid did an excellent job of crafting language.”

The abortion-funding language in the Reid Senate bill is the opposite of the pro-life Stupak/Pitts amendment added on the Pelosi bill.

– While Stupak/Pitts would have ensured that elective abortion was kept out of the public plan (called the Community Health Insurance Option in the Senate bill), the Reid/Capps language explicitly authorizes the Secretary to include abortion in the public option.

– While Stupak/Pitts would prohibit government subsidies (refundable, advanceable tax credits in the Senate bill) from contributing to insurance policies that include elective abortion, the Reid/Capps language permits government subsidies for plans that pay for abortion.

Additional points of interest on the life issues from the Reid bill:

– Healthcare Rights of Conscience: The Stupak codification of the Hyde/Weldon conscience provision is not included.

– School-based Health Clinics and Abortion Referrals: Abortions cannot be “performed” in school-based health clinics, but there is no language to prevent school clinics from referring for abortion or even helping minors make arrangements to go across state lines to avoid parental-involvement laws.

As a matter of education, the public should know that senators who vote “yes” on the Motion to Proceed Saturday night are playing right into the hands of those who are using health-care reform as a ruse to impose government-funded abortion on demand.

– Dorinda C. Bordlee is senior counsel of Bioethics Defense Fund, and editor of