(CNSNews.com) - "Senators Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Robert Casey (D-Pa.) gave mere lip service to protect the most innocent among us by placing their stamp of approval on government funding for abortion coverage" in the Democrats' health care bill, a pro-life group said after Senate Democrats advanced their bill in a 1 a.m. vote on Monday.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said the Senate's middle-of-the night, 60-40 vote to cut off debate -- thus allowing eventual passage of the bill -- reflects the "ugly, partisan and dangerous process" that has characterized the proceedings all along:
"This legislation was drafted by a handful of people, supported by only one political party and will negatively affect every single American citizen."
Perkins said while health care reform is needed, the bill crafted by Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will not alleviate the problems faced by American families. Moreover, the bill places an increasing tax burden on American families that will be used to "further devalue human life," he said.
"What is most disappointing is that while some Democrats in the House of Representatives put the sanctity of human life first and foremost, not one Senator from the Democratic Party could be bothered to stand up for mothers and their unborn children," Perkins said.
Perkins is urging Sens. Nelson and Casey to "reverse course" in future votes on the bill, but that is unlikely to happen.
An amendment to the bill includes language that would require the federal government to pay premiums for private health plans that cover abortion. Nothing in the amendment protects individual conscience rights. "A federal government run health care system will create a nationwide abortion network funded by government dollars resulting in the greatest abortion expansion since Roe v. Wade.," Perkins warned.
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) also expressed disappointment with a so-called “compromise” on the issue of abortion funding announced by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb).
"This compromise offers no real protection for human life and does nothing to keep federal health care funds from being used for abortion," said Jay Sekulow, the ACLJ's chief counsel.
"The fact is that the Senate bill specifically authorizes federal funds to be used for abortions. The so-called 'protections' in the compromise simply require that the federal subsidies and premium dollars that are collected for these services be kept separate from other federal funds. The end result provides no restrictions on abortions, but simply sets up what can only be described as a scheme that allows for federal funding of abortions, which directly violates long-standing federal law under the Hyde Amendment." (The Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions under the Medicare and Medicaid programs.)
Sekulow said abortion should never be a mandatory health care benefit. "This latest compromise only adds to a problematic Senate bill that endorses government-run health care and will not serve the nation or the American people well. We urge the Senate to reject this bill in its entirety."
The ACLJ says it has heard from nearly 200,000 Americans who oppose the federal funding of abortion in health care legislation.
Rep. Steve King (R-N.Y.) accused Sen. Ben Nelson of trading "innocent unborn human lives, a fundamental moral principle, for a monetary concession – set aside exclusively for Nebraska.”
As the Associated Press reported, in exchange for his vote, Sen. Nelson won a commitment for the federal government to pick up the full tab for an expansion of Medicaid in his state -- forever.
House Republican Leader John Boehner said the Senate bill includes "layers of accounting gimmicks" that will result in American taxpayers paying for an "abortion premium."
Under Sen. Harry Reid’s “manager’s amendment,” there is no ban on abortion coverage in federally subsidized plans participating in the newly created insurance exchanges, Boehner's office said in a press release. "Everyone enrolled in these plans must pay a monthly abortion premium (p. 41, lines 5-8), and these funds will be used to pay for the elective abortion services." Moreover, Boehner noted, "The Reid amendment directs insurance companies to assess the cost of elective abortion coverage (p. 43), and charge a minimum of $1 per enrollee per month (p. 43, lines 20-22).
"In short, the Reid bill continues to defy the will of the American people and contradict longstanding federal policy by providing federal subsidies to private health plans that cover elective abortions. The new language does include a ‘state opt-out’ provision if a state passes a law to prohibit insurance coverage of abortion, but it’s a sham because it does nothing to prevent one state’s tax dollars from paying for elective abortions in other states."
Said Boehner, "Health reform should be an opportunity to protect human life – not end it."