Remain calm about Nelson

On October 30 I wrote a "Remain calm about Stupak" post, based in large part on communications with Kristen Day, president of Democrats for Life. Kristen is in direct contact with Democrat pro-life legislators and their offices.

Turns out Kristen was right about MI Congressman Bart Stupak, as we now know.

ben nelson smiling, abortion, healthcare, democrats for life, kristen day.jpgKristen has sent another email, this one about NE Sen. Ben Nelson, the Senate go-to guy to keep abortion out of socialized healthcare. I admit it doesn't take much for me to lose faith in politicians professing to be pro-life. There aren't many I 100% believe in, such as Congressman Chris Smith.

But Kristen says to keep the faith with Nelson, while encouraging us to nudge PA Senator Bob Casey...

Dear pro-life Friends,

Senator Nelson has been a strong leader on our behalf. Now is not the time to make assumptions without checking with the Senator directly. I have been assured that he has not changed his opinion and has not gone back on anything he has said. Senator Nelson has taken a very hard line with the Caucus and they are trying hard to appease him because they need his vote.

I assure you that the Senator has not backed down from his commitment, and I urge all comments directed to his office be words of appreciation and support rather than words of suspect and conjecture.

Bob Casey, healthcare, Kristen Day, Democrats for Life.png

If we are going to spend time contacting a office, I think we should spend our energy on Senator Casey. If he would join Senator Nelson, we would be in a stronger position. Also, we will have bigger problems if Senators Snowe and Collins support the bill. Nelson's position against cloture won't matter.

Again, Senator Nelson has not changed his position. Please issue only words of support and encouragement. Senator Casey needs to change his position. Please contact him and urge him to follow Senator Nelson's lead.


Kristen doesn't issue warnings about Democrat pro-life legislators unless she knows something serious. Apparently Kristen believes Casey has, is, or will bail on a pro-life amendment to the Senate healthcare bill.


As the Executive Director of Nebraska Right to Life I would concur with Kristen's assessment. Senator Nelson is to be thanked for stepping up to the plate against his party and running the Stupak language. He continues to make statements about voting against cloture if the abortion language is not corrected. Pro-lifers need to first thank him and then encourage him to remain steadfast. Can you imagine what it takes to be one of a handful bucking your leadership? We have enjoyed a good working relationship with Senator Nelson through-out his tenure and during this debate and the lines of communication are open.

Posted by: Julie Schmit-Albin at December 11, 2009 12:54 PM

Julie, thanks so much for adding your valuable insights.

Posted by: Jill Stanek Author Profile Page at December 11, 2009 1:17 PM

I'm hoping you're right Jill. Red State is reporting that Nelson has been bought off...

Posted by: Steve at December 11, 2009 1:22 PM

You're welcome Jill. Sometimes people need to be reminded that it's a lot harder for pro-life Dems to do what they do than it is for pro-life Republicans, for the most part. Nebraska Right to Life PAC gave Senator Nelson a sole endorsement when he ran for re-election in 2006 and we're still taking heat for it, despite his record being more consistent than that of some pro-life Republicans.

Posted by: Julie Schmit-Albin at December 11, 2009 2:26 PM

Why did he vote in support of rescinding the Mexico City policy which enabled US dollars to fund abortions Internationally? This is what scares me cause it shows an insincerity of pro-life conviction. I pray I am wrong about this but I feel I would be foolish to trust his judgement unless he sees that vote as a mistake.

Posted by: truthseeker at December 12, 2009 1:16 AM

Steve: I'm not sure I'm right. Just reposting what Kristen wrote.

Truthseeker: I think he voted right on Mexico City:

Are you thinking of Casey?

Posted by: Jill Stanek Author Profile Page at December 12, 2009 7:14 AM

Senator Nelson previously voted against Mexico City policy but since 2006 reversed that course and has voted at least twice that I can recall, in favor of Mexico City. Among his other stand-out votes are opposition to funding of embryonic stem cell research and voting for Justices Roberts and Alitos' confirmations. Yes, he has had some votes we disagree with (Sebelius, Sotomayor) but even Senator Brownback voted for Sebelius. Nebraska Right to Life has always looked at the totality of a person's voting record and/or public actions, combined with our PAC survey and interview, to make determinations on endorsements. We weigh different votes/actions against the whole record and don't throw a candidate/elected official under the bus for one vote or the last vote/action taken. That is why we gave Senator Nelson a sole endorsement in his Senate re-election race in 2006. He also had a largely pro-life record as Governor previous to becoming U.S. Senator.

Posted by: Julie Schmit-Albin at December 12, 2009 9:10 AM

It must have been the 2006 vote that I had seen before. It is heartening that his recent votes have been against the US funding abortions internatonally. I believe we can take him at his word.

Posted by: truthseeker at December 12, 2009 8:55 PM

At this point, the only way Nelson or Casey could really stop the abortion funding that their failed amendment tried to prevent, is to BOTH filibuster against the final passage of the bill along with the republicans. The two senators from Maine are clearly not going to join the filibuster.

Posted by: Sean at December 13, 2009 3:54 PM