Nebraska's senior man in the U.S. Senate got the best deal he could where the politics of abortion meets the politics of health care, leaving everybody really, really hacked off.
In fact, if you listen to the Republicans and the utterly politicized pro-life groups, you'd think poor Ben Nelson was lighting the fuse on Apocalypse Now -- the useful idiot, but an utterly devious and malevolent one, from the Great State of Nebraska who just handed Barack Hussein Antichrist Obama the keys to hundreds of millions of good Christian souls.
BUT IF you read The Associated Press' account of things, it sounds a lot less Mark of the Beast-ish:
The Senate compromise was reached after hours of intense negotiation between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and key senators on both sides of the issue.YOU KNOW, I wish the language was a lot more strict, too. In fact, I wish abortion on demand was just flat illegal. And better yet, I wish no woman ever felt so out of options that she'd even consider snuffing out the life of her unborn child.
Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., who opposes abortion, had threatened to withhold a critical 60th vote for the bill unless restrictions on abortion funding were tightened. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., represented supporters of abortion rights, who wanted to preserve coverage already available.
Nelson said Saturday that the Senate bill essentially uses different means to achieve the same goals as the House bill, which included tight limits on abortion funding praised by U.S. Catholic bishops.
The health care bill would create a new stream of government subsidies to help people buy health insurance, largely through private plans. The subsidies would be available to those buying coverage through a new insurance supermarket called an exchange. Since abortion is a legal medical procedure now covered by many insurers, activists on both sides mobilized to try to shape the legislation.
The House bill includes Stupak's amendment, which bars plans operating in the exchange from paying for most abortions. The only exceptions would be those currently allowed by federal law. Women wanting coverage for abortion would have to purchase a separate policy.
Reid's bill sets up a mechanism to segregate funds used to pay for abortions from federal subsidy dollars.
No health plan would be required to offer coverage for the procedure. In plans that do cover abortion, beneficiaries would have to pay for it separately, and those funds would have to be kept in a separate account from taxpayer money.
Moreover, individual states would be able to prohibit abortion coverage in plans offered through the exchange, after but passing specific legislation to that effect. The only exceptions would be those allowed under current federal law.
But in a move that's so shocking as to not be believable -- that is, at least, if you know me -- I'm far too subtle to ever become a professional pro-lifer. Here's what it takes to play with the big boys, as evidenced by the reaction of Nebraska Right to Life:
"There is no pro-life Nebraskan more devastated by Senator Nelson's actions than myself." said [Executive Director Julie] Schmit-Albin. "I have defended his record to Nebraskans and believed that he would stand on pro-life principles as he has on numerous occasions in the past. I have had a good relationship with Senator Nelson and his staff throughout the years . I personally met with him on healthcare in July and in mid-November and have been in frequent contact with his staff over the past six weeks. Just Wednesday afternoon, I was apprised of the Casey language by his staff and I urged them to strongly relay to him that we could not support it. When he rejected the Casey language we were bolstered by that action and believed he would hold firm to his commitment to vote against cloture if Stupak language was not included."THE CATHOLIC bishops' conference also is less than happy, according to The Washington Post:
"Moreover, NRL Political Action Committee gave Senator Nelson a sole endorsement in his re-election race in 2006 based on his record and actions both as Governor and Senator." said Schmit-Albin. "It is a very sobering day for myself personally and for pro-lifers across Nebraska and the nation. Senator Nelson obliterated the hope of pro-life Americans who saw him as the last man standing between expansion of government funding of abortion and the Hyde Amendment."
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also said the plan was unacceptable, adding in a statement the bill "should be opposed" unless there are changes. "It does not seem to allow purchasers who exercise freedom of choice or of conscience to 'opt out' of abortion coverage in federally subsidized health plans that include such coverage," it said.UMM HMM. But here's the deal: The "Nelson compromise" is probably the best they'll get without blowing up the whole thing. It's also the closest thing they'll get to what had been floated
What the bishops and pro-lifers are demanding in health-care reform is something not one of them has agitated for in the present system, where 86 percent of all private insurance plans cover abortion. And unless you're wealthy enough to buy an individual policy of your own choosing, you can't "opt out," and your premiums will go toward paying to kill somebody's unborn baby.
Where's the outrage? Dead babies are dead babies, right? Is it any more immoral that one's premium dollars are funding abortions than one's tax dollars maybe funding abortions?
What we have here is a failure of logic.
What we also have here is a bunch of feckless guardians of society's most vulnerable members fighting a war for hearts and minds on the most unfriendly terrain possible -- Capitol Hill. Of course, that's just a distraction aimed at covering up the utter defeat of the church and the rest of our "culture warriors" in the battle for our . . . culture.
The political grows out of the cultural -- not vice versa -- and if you've lost the culture, politics is a futile pursuit. That pro-lifers and churchmen are too stupid to recognize that plain fact (and so obviously incompetent at softening hearts much less stony than your average Washington insider's) is a prime indicator why they so regularly get rolled by politicians.
The desperate tone of the next fund appeal you get will be as good an indicator as any of how that's working out for the unborn.