Senate Defeats Anti-Abortion Amendment in Historic Healthcare Reform Debate

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(PRESS RELEASE) Today, the Senate voted 54 to 45 to table an anti-abortion amendment in a historic vote on healthcare reform. The amendment, offered by Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and others, would have prohibited individuals receiving federal subsidies from buying private insurance plans that cover abortion and, would in effect ban the public option from covering abortion services altogether. In addition, the amendment would have allowed plan administrators and those running the insurance exchanges to actively discriminate against insurance plans that offer abortion coverage. Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, issued this statement in response:

"The Center for Reproductive Rights applauds the Senate for rejecting an attempt to seriously undermine women's health. The Nelson-Hatch amendment was a bill of goods sold as a mere continuation of federal law that, in reality, would in effect be a wholesale ban on abortion coverage for millions of women. Thanks to the leadership of the Senate, the health bill it passes will ensure that women will keep the benefits that they already have today.

"That said, as the debate moves into the final stretch, it is absolutely critical that our elected officials hold the line against any further attempts to use the health reform debate to advance an anti-choice agenda. The Senate bill, while eminently better than the House legislation, should not be mistaken as a win for women in this country. The bill requires that no federal monies will pay for insurance plans that cover abortion services, excluding a fundamental medical service needed by women as part of an essential health benefits package."