Senate Debate Not Over on Abortion Amendment

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WASHINGTON - Despite the U.S. Senate having defeated efforts to keep tax dollars from being used to pay for abortions in the health care legislation, the debate may not be over yet.

On Tuesday, 50 Democrats, two Republicans and two Independents defeated the Nelson-Hatch amendment 54 to 45 after hours of emotional debate.

"I personally believe all children born and unborn are precious gifts from God and we have a moral responsibility to protect them," Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, said.

Americans for Life's Anna Franzonella joined the CBN Newschannel's Midday program to talk more on this hotly contested issue. Click play to watch the interview.

The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., would put the long-standing Hyde amendment into law - a requirement blocking the use of federal funds to pay for abortions except in the cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother.

Currently the amendment has to be attached to federal spending bills every year.

It also prevented insurers that receive federal subsidies from covering the procedure - and that is what bothered pro-abortion lawmakers most.

"What this amendment does is it says there's one group of people here who we're going treat differently here and we're going to take one procedure that only applies to them and say they can't buy health insurance for that procedure only if it's a separate ryder," Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said.

Outside of moral implications, Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., argued paying for abortions is fiscally irresponsible since the last time the federal government paid for the procedure it funded 300,000 abortions per year.

"At a time of hemorrhaging debt that the federal government being supportive and funding of elective abortions flies in the face of our trying to restrain or bend the cost curve down in this legislation," Brownback argued.

Tentative Deal Reached on Public Option

Meanwhile, Democrats have reached a tentative agreement with moderate senators who have been leery of any type of a public health insurance option.

"This is a consensus that ensures the American people win in several ways - insurance companies will certainly have more competition and the American people will certainly have more choices," Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said.

Reid must have the support of all 58 Democratic senators and two independents to pass the legislation and overcome a Republican filibuster.

But even then, the Senate legislation still faces hurdles in the House where a coalition of pro-life Democrats and Republicans have threatened to create problems for any bill they believe doesn't protect life.

"So, I won't promise my vote on the final bill until I have a chance to read it, look at it and make sure we're not doing anything to jeopardize the sanctity of life either at the beginning of life or the end of life," Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., said.

Senate leaders still hope to take a final vote on their bill before Christmas.

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Jennifer Wishon

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Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.