Great quotes in this ABC News story today:
For 36 years, the controversial Roe v. Wade decision set the ground rules for abortion law in the US, but the issue has continued to simmer beneath the political surface. With the momentum to get a health care bill passed by the end of the year, it is now threatening to boil over and derail the health care legislation, and one senator is leading the helm – Ben Nelson of NE.
Nelson, 68, is a longtime abortion opponent. His amendment to tighten restrictions on federal funding for abortion was struck down in the Senate on Dec. 8, even though a similar measure passed in the House.
Since then, Nelson has racheted up the heat and is threatening to filibuster with Republicans if language similar to what he proposed is not included in the health care bill….
Nelson said Thursday… “But as it is, without modifications, [Sen. Bob Casey’s compromise] language concerning abortion is not sufficient.”…
Lawmakers and the White House both have tried to woo Nelson, who has famously declared his vote is not for sale. He has met with President Obama 3 times in 8 days….
Rep. Bart Stupak, D-MI, rejected the Casey proposal as a “non-starter,” and expressed confidence that his language will be included in the final bill. Stupak told ABC News he has been in touch with Sen. Nelson.
“They are holding tough and they are asking me, ‘Is the House holding tough?‘” Stupak said. “Our members are holding, so we will not pass if they are putting anything but a version of our language.“…
In recent weeks, the WH has racheted up pressure on Democratic leaders to pass a health care overhaul bill. President Obama has repeatedly urged his party members to reach a compromise, saying that this is a health care bill, not an abortion bill.
But the controversial issue is unlikely to fade away any time soon, and some liberal Democrats say that the party needs to reframe the debate to reach out to Americans….
The abortion debate is likely to take center stage as Senate Democratic leaders clamor to gain full support for the health care bill by Christmas.
Nelson’s office did not return calls seeking comment, but his counterparts say they will not back down anytime soon.
“This isn’t an argument on merit. This is more an argument on their pride,” Rep. Stupak said of his Democratic colleagues who opposed his amendment. “They chose this fight and lost.”