The Abortion Issue Vetted by the Press
Editor’s note: Here the press has publicized the abortion issue. Decide for yourself what ethics, principles and duty to represent your constituency means to this amendment and the overall health reform bill.
Reid: Abortion Should Not Scuttle Health Care Bill
December 09, 2009
Sen. Harry Reid’s move to scuttle a fellow Democrat’s effort to toughen abortion restrictions in the health care bill was the plain pragmatism of a majority leader who knows where the votes are — and faces a tough re-election next year.
In a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday event, the Nevada Democrat urged his colleagues to reject Sen. Ben Nelson’s amendment to stiffen curbs on abortion in the worked-over health care bill. Reid opposes abortion but recognized the threat Nelson’s amendment posed to the overall bill to expand health coverage to some 30 million uninsured Americans.
Nelson’s amendment drew the opposition of senators who favor abortion rights, and jeopardized legislation that would deliver on President Barack Obama’s top legislative priority and boost Reid’s difficult prospects for a fifth Senate term.
“This is a health care bill. It’s not an abortion bill,” Reid said, carefully reading a prepared speech on the Senate floor. “We can’t afford to miss the big picture.”
The Senate defeated it, 54-45.
Reid’s move was a model of political multitasking, a nod toward the several challenges facing him as leader in the midst of the most sensitive dealmaking of his career.
The vote itself gave senators cover on the abortion issue, so they could register their positions and say they fought for their principles. Seven Democrats supported the stiffer restrictions, while two Republicans — Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe– voted with the Democrats.
Reid also made clear to his constituents back home that he remained a Democrat who opposes abortion rights — a position in line with his Mormon beliefs — notwithstanding his drive to nix Nelson’s amendment.
“I have consistently cast my vote against abortion,” said Reid, 70. “To me, it’s a matter of conscience.”
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