United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.) today voted against Sen. Ben Nelson's (D-Neb.) abortion-funding amendment to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Nelson amendment would go beyond current federal law and would not only have prohibited the use of taxpayer funds for abortion services, but would also have prevented many Americans from using their own funds to obtain coverage for abortions. The amendment was defeated by a vote of 45-54.
Sen. Landrieu said:
"As a Catholic, I understand the sincere and devout moral opposition that many people of faith have to abortion and their tax dollars being used to pay for abortion services. I have and will continue to oppose the use of government funds for these services. Since 1976, federal law has banned the use of taxpayer dollars for abortions. I have consistently supported this policy, and the legislation being considered by the Senate -- The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- continues that approach.
"As we move closer to finishing our work to improve health care in America, we cannot allow the bill's opponents to manufacture a controversy for the sole purpose of killing these important reform efforts. The fact is that the Senate bill already ensures that no federal funds will be used for abortion coverage, and even goes a step further. The legislation creates a 'firewall' to separate federal from private funds, and guarantees that only private dollars are used for abortion coverage in the new insurance exchanges. In addition, for the first time, the federal government would require that Americans are offered a health plan option that does not cover abortion services.
"Although I strongly object to using federal funds for abortion, I cannot support the Nelson amendment. One of the pledges we made at the start of this debate was that we would ensure that Americans who like their current health coverage would get to keep it. The Nelson amendment would break that promise by taking legal abortion coverage out of private policies that currently cover it.
"Now is the time for the Senate to get to work on driving down costs to the taxpayer and expanding affordable access to life-saving medical coverage for all Americans, not to use a divisive wedge issue to scuttle the bill."