Issue of Covering Abortions Will Not Impede Health-Care Reform Legislation, Says ‘Pro-Life' Democratic Sen. Bob Casey

By | July 2, 2009 | 9:03 AM EDT

( – Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), a self-proclaimed pro-life Democrat who now embraces President Barack Obama's call for “common ground,” said Wednesday that the issue of abortion should not bog down passage of a health-care reform bill.  
“It hasn’t been an impediment, and I don’t expect it to be and it shouldn’t be. There is no reason why in a health-care bill we have to have another debate about that issue (abortion),” Casey told in a conference-call discussion about health-care reform in the Senate.

“I think it is abundantly clear what my position is on the issue of abortion,” he added.
Casey has been clear about his opposition to abortion. The son of the late pro-life Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey, Sen. Casey has held that while the Constitution protects the right to privacy, it does not trump the rights of the unborn. 
Yet Casey’s statement that abortion should not impede health care reform flies in the face of 19 pro-life Democrats in the House, who recently sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) insisting that abortion funding should not be included in any health-care reform bill.

In fact, specifically asked Casey about the House members' pledge to oppose any health-care bill that contains abortion funding: "Nineteen pro-life House Democrats sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi saying they would only support a health care package that  'explicitly excludes' abortion from the scope of the plan. Do you agree? And will you also only support a health reform plan that explicitly excludes abortion coverage?"  
“I can’t speak for what the House is doing and what members are doing in the House, but in the Senate, I don’t think that it (the abortion issue) is going to be an impediment to getting this legislation passed,” Casey told
In their letter to Pelosi, the pro-life House Democratic claimed that a health-care plan that mandates coverage for abortions would be an “unacceptable” option.
The congressmen explained that without an explicit exclusion, abortion could be federally funded as part of a government-subsidized health care plan. “We want to ensure that the Health Benefits Advisory Committee cannot recommend abortion services be included under covered benefits or as part of a benefits package,” the House Democrats wrote.
“The health-care reform package produced by Congress will be landmark, and with legislation as important as this, abortion must be addressed clearly in the bill text,” the letter continued. The pro-life Demcrats further explained that congressional funding restrictions on abortion have “saved lives by reducing the number of abortions.”
‘Common-ground’ guy
While campaigning for his Senate seat, Casey supported overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on demand.
But more recently, Casey also supported then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, who supports abortion rights.

As Casey told the Democratic National Convention last summer, “Barack Obama and I have an honest disagreement on the issue of abortion. But the fact that I’m speaking here tonight is testament to Barack’s ability to show respect for the views of people who may disagree with him.”
In January, Casey re-introduced the Pregnant Women Support Act (S.270), which would provide assistance to pregnant women both before and after delivery.
“I introduce this bill with the deepest conviction that we can find common ground,” Casey said at the time. “I believe that we can transform this debate by focusing upon the issues that unite us, not the issues that divide us.”
Obama also has called for “common ground” in the abortion debate, but many pro-life conservatives reject the notion.
“Over the years, we have come to understand that a desire for common ground translates into the view that principle must yield to pragmatism, and after that, to acceptance of abortion in some cases and after that, to abysmal defeat,” wrote American Life League president Judie Brown in a May 29 column. “The common ground theory and those who advocate it remind me of quicksand … the slow, certain sinking of truth into the sands of deceit that clearly represent, among other things, Obamaland.”