The U.S. Senate yesterday defeated a ban on federal funding of abortion, putting at least one Democratic vote for the Democrats' own health care plan in play, that of Senator Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska).
Nelson, along with Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), sponsored the amendment, which sought to enshrine in law the functional equivalent of the Hyde Amendment into the proposed health care legislation being pushed by the White House and congressional Democrats.
The vote, 54-45 against the Nelson-Hatch Amendment, may also raise questions about the vote of Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, Jr., one of the other, very few pro-life Democrats in the upper chamber.
It is tempting to take a benign view of the matter and see this development as a possible derailment of the health care plan, which has evolved into a monstrosity of taxation, spending, and federal bloat. But that would be a mistake, given the moral and social disaster embodied in any sanction of federal funding of the destruction of unborn children at taxpayer expense. Like it or not, there is a real possibility that the health care legislation pushed by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) may still become law given that this is a do-or-die issue for the very liberal majorities in both houses.
Nevertheless, if Reid loses Nelson's vote, and Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) bolts over a public option, which he has sworn to do, this legislation could still go down in flames.
There is a large contingent of pro-life, Blue Dog and simply scared Democrats in the House of Representatives, which actually passed the Stupak amendment, its version of Nelson-Hatch, who are beginning to think hard about their re-election chances if all the hard work on the life issue comes to naught. With more people telling Gallup that they are pro-life than pro-choice these days, they may wonder why their congressman or woman is still hanging around with the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Indeed, Harry Reid is not looking to strong at home either.