WASHINGTON (BP)--House Democratic leaders Thursday began a 72-hour countdown to a dramatic Sunday vote on the Senate health care bill, a proposal that is opposed by the nation's leading pro-life groups and which likely will pass or fail by only a handful of votes.
"A House member who votes for the Senate bill would forfeit a plausible claim to pro-life credentials."
-- National Right to Life
Democratic leaders had been awaiting a score on the bill's changes by the Congressional Budget Office, which issued a preliminary report Thursday morning estimating the overall bill would cost $940 billion over 10 years and reduce the deficit by $138 billion over the same period. With the CBO numbers in hand, Democrats unveiled the bill's proposed changes, which they had promised would be public for 72 hours before the House takes a vote. None of the changes pertain to abortion.
But pro-life groups are less concerned about CBO numbers than the bill's impact on the nation's abortion rate, which they argue could dramatically increase if the bill passes the House. The bill changes longstanding federal policy by allowing tax dollars to fund insurance plans that cover abortion. It also appropriates $7 billion to the nation's 1,200-plus community health centers without stating that the money cannot be used for abortions, the groups say. Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, supports the bill and argued it would "significantly increase access to reproductive health care."
Pro-life groups are turning up the pressure on like-minded Democrats, arguing the vote is a monumental one for representatives' careers and encouraging their constituents to call their House member. National Right to Life sent a memo to House members March 5 stating plainly that "a House member who votes for the Senate bill would forfeit a plausible claim to pro-life credentials." Local pro-life chapters also are involved, including Tennessee Right to Life, which said in an e-mail to constituents Thursday that four representatives -- Tennessee's Lincoln Davis, Jim Cooper, Bart Gordon and John Tanner -- would "cast key votes." Read More