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Hatch loses fight on abortion funding

Published: Tuesday, July 14 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Democrats defeated on Monday — by one vote — an amendment by Sen. Orrin Hatch designed to ensure that health insurance reform will not lead to taxpayer-funded abortions.

"They made it very, very clear they are going to allow taxpayer financing of abortions," Hatch, R-Utah, complained on MSNBC after the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee rejected his amendment on a 12-11 vote. He added there is "no question" that will be a deal breaker for reform.

Hatch's amendment sought to reiterate the "Hyde Amendment," which since 1976 has banned taxpayer money from funding abortions except in cases of rape or incest or to protect the life of the mother.

Hatch sought the amendment after the committee last week adopted language in the bill to require that "essential community providers," which includes Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, be included in health insurance networks.

Hatch said he was assured that would not require insurance plans to cover abortion, but he wanted language in the bill to ensure it does not happen. That language was killed on Monday.

"That is why today's vote is so puzzling," Hatch said in a press release.

He said that if the earlier amendment "would not sanction taxpayer-funded abortions, as its proponents have said, then why strike down the amendment to ensure that it doesn't? This is hardly reassuring to Americans who believe in the sanctity of life."

It led Hatch to describe to MSNBC the current state of the health care reform bill as "a one-sided, all-Democrat, liberal bill." He said defeating his amendment shows "how left wing they are going up here on Capitol Hill, and it's awful."

In his press release on the vote, Hatch said, "The right to life is a fundamental value cherished by most Americans, regardless of their political affiliation."

He added, "Yet unless abortion is specifically excluded from this bill, the secretary of Health and Human Services could mandate coverage of abortion, arguing it is an 'essential health care benefit' and is 'necessary for meeting minimum qualifying coverage.' "

e-mail: lee@desnews.com

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