Harry Reid Responds to Critics of Abortion Funding in Senate Health Care Bill by Saying He Opposes Abortion

December 2, 2009 - 10:50 PM
Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), author of the Senate health-care bill that permits taxpayer dollars to go to insurance plans which cover abortion, tells critics that he "oppose(s) abortion except in the cases of rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is at risk."
Reid, Harkin, Dodd, Senate health care

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid D-Nev., speaks after the U.S. Senate voted to begin debate on health care legislation on Capitol Hill on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., right, and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, stand with Reid. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

(CNSNews.com) – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), author of the Senate health-care bill that permits taxpayer dollars to go to insurance plans which cover abortion, responded to letters protesting the abortion funding in the bill with a letter of his own saying that he opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when there is a threat to the life of the mother.
 
A part of the letter Reid's office recently sent to critics objecting to the abortion funding in his bill reads: “Thank you for contacting me about health care reform and abortion. I appreciate hearing from you.”
 
“I noted your specific comments related to health care reform and abortion. I oppose abortion except in the cases of rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is at risk.”
 
“As the Senate Majority Leader and the senior senator from Nevada, I am committed to working to find common ground that brings our nation together while respecting both the views of those who differ as well as the values many of us hold deeply. Please know that as we move forward, I will keep your ideas and concerns in mind. It is my hope that we can make affordable, comprehensive health care coverage a reality for so many Americans who are currently struggling to pay their medical bills, and make ends meet.”
 
Reid’s health-care reform bill, which he released Nov. 18, allows the public option to include abortion coverage, permits federal subsidies to go to private insurance plans that cover abortion, and even mandates that the secretary of health and human services make certain that at least one insurance plan available in the insurance exchange where people will buy insurance with federal subsidies covers abortion.  The abortion language in Reid's bill mirrors the abortion language that was in the House health care bill before it was superceded by an amendment sponsored by Rep. Bart Stupak (D.-Mich.) that prohibits any tax dollars from going to health insurance plans that cover abortion.
 
In an interview with CNSNews.com on Nov. 1, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said that Reid was aware of a pro-life amendment that Hatch has proposed adding to the bill, and that he believed Reid would “be on our side on this.”  Hatch's Senate amendment mirrors Stupak's amendment in the House.



 
CNSNews.com: Have you spoken to Senate Majority Leader Reid about your amendment?
 
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah): Yes, he knows about it, and I believe Harry Reid would be on our side on this.
 
Reid’s office did not respond to inquires from CNSNews.com about whether the majority leader supports the Hatch amendment and if he does--as his letter and Hatch’s response indicate--why Reid authored a bill that permits taxpayer funding of abortion.
 
Hatch’s amendment would prohibit federal dollars from funding abortions except in the cases of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother.
 
The amendment was defeated both in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (on a 12-11 vote) and in the Senate Finance Committee (13-10).
 
Copy of Letter Over Signature of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:
 
November 26, 2009
 
Dear ___________:
 
Thank you for contacting me about health care reform and abortion. I appreciate hearing from you.
 
In America today, concerns about our health care system have been rightly brought to the forefront of the national consciousness. Many of us are familiar with the reports of 47 million uninsured Americans, escalating prescription drug prices, and declining health insurance benefits. Unfortunately, for too many across Nevada and the country, these facts and statistics are not anonymous findings removed from daily life. As a fellow Nevadan, and as the Senate Majority Leader, I know that millions are struggling with the reality of America's health care crisis. 
 
Amid our health care crisis, however, I believe there are opportunities for members of Congress, the President and his Administration, the private sector, and other stakeholders to work together for the benefit of the American people. It is my hope that the solutions we develop and enact will ensure quality, affordable health care coverage for all Americans-regardless of their age, income, employment, or health status.
 
I noted your specific comments related to health care reform and abortion.  I oppose abortion except in the cases of rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is at risk.  As the Senate Majority Leader and the senior senator from Nevada, I am committed to working to find common ground that brings our nation together while respecting both the views of those who differ as well as the values many of us hold deeply.  Please know that as we move forward, I will keep your ideas and concerns in mind.  It is my hope that we can make affordable, comprehensive health coverage a reality for so many Americans who are currently struggling to pay their medical bills, and make ends meet. 
 
Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.