A number of high-profile senators have come forward today to say that a controversial amendment to House health care legislation that would limit a woman's right to purchase insurance that covers abortions goes too far and should not be a part of the Senate.
At a Capitol Hill event this morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid implied that the Stupak amendment exceeds the strictures of the years-old Hyde amendment which prohibits federal funds from financing abortions. "I expect that the bill that will be brought to the floor will ensure..no federal contribution to abortion, and that [the] rights of providers, health care facilities like Catholic hospitals, are protected," Reid said. "The one thing that we're certain to do is to maintain what we have had in the past. I had the good fortune, as did Senator Durbin to serve with Henry Hyde, the Hyde amendment has been a pretty good way to go through this last couple of decades."
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) was more explicit. At a health care event this morning, Cardin said, "The right policy is to avoid coming down on one side or the other on the abortion issue and to handle health care reform as a separate issue."
He went on, "I think that the Stupak amendment does not do that. The Stupak amendment tries to advance a particular view and I think it's regrettable and I would certainly prefer a bill that does not include the Stupak amendment."
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT)--two pro-choice legislators with different public postures on the issue of abortion--both agree that adding Stupak-like language to the Senate bill will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, due to a likely 60-vote threshold.
But Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) told TPMDC yesterday that if at the end of the day the Senate health care bill does not include restrictive language along the lines of the Stupak amendment, he will join a filibuster to kill it.