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tv   Today in Washington  CSPAN  December 9, 2009 6:00am-7:00am EST

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abortions while the nelson-hatch-casey package is unprecedented. so i would just like to ask the distinguished senator from utah what exactly did the hatch -- did the hyde language say? let's clarify what hyde was so we can then determine if your amendment is the same. mr. hatch: thank you so much. the current hyde language contained in fiscal year 2009 labor-h.h.s. appropriations act says the following: section 507-a. none of the funds appropriated in this act and none of the funds in any trust fund to which funds are appropriated in this act shall be expended for any abortion. b, none of the funds appropriated in this act and none of the funds in any trust fund to which funds are appropriated in this act shall be expended for health benefits coverage that includes coverage
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of abortion. mrs. hutchison: so that is federal funds prohibited from being used in abortions for that particular pweufplt what about programs like chip? that was created in the balanced budget act, and in 2009 was reauthorized by congress and signed by the president earlier this year. so what about the chip program? mr. hatch: i know a little bit about kheufp. it was the hatch -- about chip. it was the hatch-kennedy bill. i insisted that the following language be included in the limited statute. in general, payments shall not be made to a state under this section for any amount expended under the state plan to pay for any abortion or to assist in the purchase in whole or in part of health benefit coverage that includes coverage of abortion. b, exception: subparagraph a shall not apply to an abortion only if necessary to save the life of the mother or if the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or insist.
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that is what the chip bill said, and that was the hatch-kennedy bill. mrs. hutchison: i assume you do know what is in that bill. what about the federal employees health benefit plan? what does it say? mrs. hutchison: the reason i mentioned senator kennedy is because he was the leading liberal in the senate at the time and yet he agreed to that language. the federal employee health benefit package, the following language appears in the financial services and general government appropriations act for fiscal year 2009: section 613. no funds appropriated by this act shall be available to pay for an abortion or the administrative expenses in connection with any health plan under the federal employees health benefits program which provides any benefits or coverage for abortions. section 614. the provisions of section 613 shall not apply where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term or the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape
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or incest. mrs. hutchison: isn't that the same as the language of the nelson-hatch-casey amendment? mr. hatch: you're right. let me read that language for you. in general, no funds authorized or appropriated by this act or an amendment made by this act may be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the cost of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion. mrs. hutchison: based on what you've said, this is not new federal abortion policy? the hyde amendment currently applies to the plans discussed, including the plans that members of congress have, and the abortion protections for all of the federal health programs all say exactly the same thing and that we should -- the amendment that we are going to vote on, that is the nelson-hatch-casey amendment, would preserve the
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three-decades long precedent. that's what your amendment does. and that we must pass it if we are going to guarantee that the bill that is on the floor is properly amended so that it is the same as our 30 years of abortion federal policy in this country? mr. hatch: the reason it's so critical that we pass the nelson-hatch-casey amendment is that it is the only way to guarantee that taxpayer dollars are not used by the insurance plans under the democrats' bill to pay for abortions. in other words, the hyde language is in the appropriations process. we have to do it every year rather than making it a solid amendment. but this bill is not subject to appropriations. so this bill, if we leave the hyde language out of this bill and the language that we have in the amendment, the
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nelson-hatch-casey amendment, then we would be opening up a door for people who believe that abortion ought to be paid for by the federal government to do so. and we should close that door because that's been the rule since 1977. mrs. hutchison: i just thank you for the explanation. i thank the senator from utah, because i do think it's important that people know. there has been a lot of question raised about the bill and whether it would be a foot in the door for a -- for changing a policy that really has been the law of our country and accepted as such, whether it was a democratically controlled congress or republican-controlled congress. i think everyone has agreed that this hyde amendment language has protected federal taxpayers who might have a very firm conviction against abortion
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would not have to be subsidizing this procedure. mr. hatch: i appreciate the distinguished senator from texas pointing this out. the current bill has language that looks like it is protected but it is not. and that's what we're trying to do, is close the loophole in that language and get it so that we live up to the hyde amendment which has been in law since 1977. and to be honest with you, i don't see how anybody could argue that the taxpayers ought to be called upon to foot the bill for abortions. let's just be brutally frank about it. the taxpayers should not be called upon to pay for abortions. the polls range from 61% of the american people, including many pro-choice people, do not believe taxpayers should pay for abortion to 68%. the polls are from 61% to 68% do not believe that the taxpayers ought to be paying for abortions except to save the life of the mother or for rape or incest.
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and we provided for that -- for those approaches in this amendment. so anybody who argues otherwise is just plain not being accurate. mr. specter: madam president, would the senator from utah be willing to yield for a question? mr. hatch: sure. mr. specter: my question relates to the provisions of the pending bill, section 1303-2-b which specifies that the plan will not allow for any payments of abortion and where there is as provided out of section 1303-2-a, there would be a segregation of funds. so that under the existing
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statute, there is no federal funding used for abortion. but an individual may bile additional funds -- may buy additional funds, a woman having the right to pay for her own abortion coverage. and with the status of medicaid, where the prohibition applies to anybody, any federal funds being used to pay for an abortion, there are 23 states which allow for payment for abortion coverage coming out of state funds. so aren't the provisions of this statute which enable the woman to pay for abortion on her own exactly the same as what is now covered under medicaid without
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running against the violation provisions of the hyde amendment? mr. hatch: the way we view the current language in the bill is that there's a loophole there whereby they can even use federal funds to provide for abortion in this, under this segregation language. and that's what we're concerned about. want to close that loophole and make sure the federal funds are not used for abortion. like i say, there are millions of people who are pro-choice who agree with the hyde language. all we're doing is putting the hyde language into this bill in a way that we think it will work better. mr. specter: if the senator -- a senator: would the senator yield for a comment? mr. brownback: i'd like to quote bart stupak who carried this amendment, the same sort of amendment you're putting forward only on the house side and the same sort of questions naturally were coming up, saying you're
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blocking abortion funding of the individual. and i'm quote ron goldman from representative stupak, the cap amendment departed from hyde in several important and troubling ways, by mandating that at least one plan in the health insurance exchange provide abortion coverage. by requiring a minute number $1 monthly charge for all covered individuals that would go toward paying for abortions by allowing individuals receiving federal affordability credits, those are federal dollars, to purchase health insurance plans that cover abortion. in all those ways, the cap amendment, which is in the reid bill, expands and does federal funding of abortion that we haven't done for 33 years. going on with stupak, hyde currently prohibits direct federal funding of abortion much the stupak amendment, which is also the nelson-hatch amendment, is a continuation of this policy of the hyde amendment.
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nothing more. nothing less. and i think it's important that we clarify that this is a continuation of what we've been doing for 33 years that the senator from utah, the senator from nebraska is putting forward in this amendment. and i thank my colleague for yielding for that. mr. hatch: i thank my colleague for bringing that forward. the segregation language in here is a very problematic language, and that's what we're trying to resolve. we basically all agreed with the hyde language since 1977, this would, in effect, incorporate the hyde language for the bill. a senator: would the senator yield for a comment? mr. hatch: sure. mr. johanns: if i might just have a thought on this language. the national right to life group saw through that language immediately. it took them about 20 seconds to figure out what was happening here and i think they referred to it as a bookkeeping gimmick
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that there would be segregation if the federal money went in the left pocket but you paid for abortions out of your right pocket. and it doesn't make any sense. that segregation isn't going to work. they saw through it. they saw the gimmick it was. let me just say i support your amendment. i applaud you and senator nelson and senator casey for bringing this very important issue forward. i applaud you for keeping this effort that started with the hyde amendment or hyde language, rather. because what we're doing here is saying clearly to the american people, whether directly or indirectly, your tax dollars are not going to be used to buy abortions. and thank you for your leadership on this issue. i'm happy to be here to support that. a senator: would the senator from utah respond to my question? mr. specter: how can you disagree with the provisions of
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section 1303, 2a, the bill which is pending which specifies that if a qualified health plan provides for services for abortion -- this is the essence of it -- if a qualified health plan qualifies for services for abortion, the issue of the plan shall not use any amount of the federal funds for abortion. so there is a flatout prohibition for use of federal funds. and under section 1303, 2b, there is a segregation of funds which is identical to medicaid. so however you may want to characterize it, the -- how do you respond to the flat language of the statute which accomplishes the purpose of the hyde amendment and allows -- allows for payment by collateral funds just as medicaid pays for abortions without federal funds.
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mr. hatch: i'm not going to ask it in the form of a question. if that's true, then why have the cap language in there? why don't we take the hyde language, which is what we're trying to do. is didn't true. we know under this bill there would be subsidization to help people pay for it. it could go up to $88,000 a year. and that could be indirectly used for abortion. it is a loophole that hyde closes. and if -- if -- if the distinguished senator from pennsylvania believes that the cap language does what hyde meant to begin with and what it's been since 1977, what's wrong with putting the hyde language in here? what's the problem we see it as literally a loophole through which they can actually get help from the federal government directly and indirectly to pay for abortion. now, let's think about it.
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there are no mandates in this language that we have for elective abortion coverage. plans and providers are free from any government mandate for abortion. there's no federal funding of elective abortion or plans that include elective abortion, except in the case where the life of the mother is in danger or the pregnancy %@@@@@ @ truly private abortion coverage. even through the exchange. this amendment doesn't prohibit that. bottom line, the effect on
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abortion funding and mandates is exactly that of the house bill changed by the stupak amendment. look, if -- if the distinguished senator from pennsylvania believes that -- that the cap language is the same as hyde, he's wrong. and if he believes that it does what hyde would do, he's wrong. and why not just put the hyde language in once and for, which has been there since 1977, that's what the stupak language is. the hyde amendment specifically removes abortion from government programs. but the reid bill specifically allows abortion to be offered in two huge new government programs. the reid bill tries to explain this contradiction by calling for the segregation of federal dollars when federal subsidies are used to purchase health plans. this -- quote -- "segregation" of funds actually violates the
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hyde amendment which prevents funding of abortion by federal funds and state matching funds within the state plan. simply put today federal and state medicaid dollars are not segregated. and so that's the difference. now, if -- if the distinguished senator from pennsylvania believes that the current language in the reid bill meets the quality of the hyde language, why not put the hyde language in once and for since it has been in law since 1977? it's important to note that today there is no segregation of federal funds in any federal health care program. for example, the medicaid program receives both federal and state dollars. there is no segregation of either the federal medicaid dollars or state medicaid dollars. with that, i know i have some colleagues who asked to have time to speak. i will yield the floor.
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mr. vitter: will the senator yield? madam president? mr. specter: the senator from utah has not yet answered the question. the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. vitter: i strongly support the senator from utah's amendment and along with senator nelson and senator casey. i think that this exchange and colloquy is very helpful. in fact, i think it proves the point and the senator from pennsylvania's participation in it. the only folks defending the language in the reid bill are folks who are strongly and clearly pro-choice an proabortion. -- and proabortion. folks who have a problem with that say that the underlying language in the reid bill has huge loopholes. and that includes the people who want to support the bill otherwise. as senator brownback mentioned, representative stupak wants to
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support the underlying bill, supported it in the house, but he was very clear in his efforts on the house floor that that underlanguage, which is now in the reid bill, had huge loopholes, wasn't good enough. needed to be fixed. that's why he came up with the stupak language, and that's essentially exactly what we have in this amendment. similarly the u.s. conference of bishops. they're very supportive of the concepts of the underlying bill. it said clearly that the reid bill is cleell completely unacc, close quote, on this abortion. and -- quote -- "-- so this colloquy involving the distinguished senator from pennsylvania, that general debate, i think, proves the point clearly.
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and i, again, compliment the senator from utah, along with senator nelson, senator casey, others. i'm a cosponsor of the amendment. we need to pass this on the bill. this will do away with the loophole. this will be real language to truly prohibit taxpayer funding of abortions. this constitutes exactly the same as that long tradition since 1977 of the hatch amendment. this mirrors the stupak language. so it should be crystal clear. what will this amendment specifically do? it will mean that there are no mandates for elective abortion coverage. plans an providers are free from -- and providers are free from any government mandate of abortion under this amendment language. it would mean that there is no federal funding of elective abortion or plans that include elective abortion, except in the cases when the life of the
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mother is in danger or in cases of rape or incest. this means that this amendment would allow individuals to purchase a supplemental policy or a plan that covers elective abortion as long as that separate policy is purchased completely with private dollars. it would prohibit the public plan from covering those elective abortions an prevent the federal government from mandating abortion coverage by any private plan. insurance plans are not prevented from selling truly private abortion coverage, including through the exchange, but taxpayer dollars would have nothing absolutely -- absolutely nothing to do with it. bottom line, the effect on abortion funding and mandates is exactly the same as the long distinguished tradition of the hyde amendment with this amendment and it would be exactly the same as the stupak language on the house side. now, i also agree with the distinguished senator from utah
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when he said this should not be of any great controversy. abortion is a deeply divisive issue in this country. but taxpayer dollars being used to pay for abortion is not. there is a broad and a wide and a deep consensus against using any taxpayer dollars to pay for abortion. the senator from utah mentioned polls. that's why the hyde amendment has been longstanding since 1977. that's why it's been voted and supported and passed again and again and again. in congressing with democratic majorities and republican majorities. it is a solid consensus. it does represent the commonsense of the american people. -- common sense of the american people. i will follow in a similar proud tradition of louisiana senators supporting that consensus.
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every u.s. senator from louisiana since the hyde amendment was originally adopted has strongly supported this commonsense consensus view. every senator. an everyone, but me, has been democrat. every sitting senator from louisiana has supported that commonsense consensus view, and i surely hope that tradition, as well, continues today. again, i applaud the senator from utah and his leading cosponsor, senator nelson, senator casey on this effort and i encourage all of my colleagues, democrats and republicans, to come together around what the american people consider a real no brainer. a new consensus. something that clearly reflects the common sense of the american people. is abortion a divisive issue? yes. is using taxpayers to fund abortion a close question?
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no. there is a clear consensus in america not to use any taxpayers' dollars to fund abortion. it's crystal clear to continue that. we need to pass this amendment and the underlying language in the reid bill is completely unacceptable. with that, i thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. mr. hatch: madam president, i'm appreciative of the distinguished senator from texas, the distinguished senator from louisiana and the distinguished senator from nebraska and, of course, the distinguished senators from kansas and -- and montana -- not montana but south dakota, who are here on the floor and participating in this. i believe we have until 12:27. so i'm going to relistening wish the floor and leave it up -- relinquish the floor and leave it up to you. a senator: i want to put a fine point on something that was said by the senator from pennsylvania about the use of medicaid funds
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in the states. there are a number of states that do provide programs that have abortion funding, but i think there is a very clear distinction that needs to be made in medicaid funds which are matching funds, and none of those funds can be used to fund abortions. and you said that in response to his question, but i think that point needs to be made very clear because the senator from pennsylvania was implying that somehow since states had created programs that fund abortions and since medicaid is a federal-state program, that somehow those two are being mixed and that this idea that because we're -- they're calling for -- quote -- segregation, that really doesn't exist in the medicaid program. the medicaid program, those are matching funds. that is a federal-state program, and the federal dollars that go into the medicaid program, the prohibition that exists on federal funding of abortions applies to medicaid dollars that go to the states. to the degree that states have adopted programs that fund abortions, those are state funds and not medicaid funds which are
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matching funds. mr. hatch: i'm glad the distinguished senator made that even more clear. last night, a number of democrats got on the floor and i think completely distorted this issue. look, if they -- if they think that the caps language equals the hyde language, why not put the hyde language in? they don't want it in because they want to be able to fund abortion any way they possibly can. and they will not only be able to fund it in a variety of ways with federal dollars if we don't put the -- the hyde language in. so that's what this is about. i would be happy to yield the floor. a senator: i have another point on this as well f you're not clear about this, then abortion will also be funded. mr. brownback: if there is any sort of this let's kind of be fuzzy about this and not be clear, the commonwealth of massachusetts recently passed its state-mandated insurance, commonwealth care without an
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explicit exclusion on abortion, and guess what? abortions there were also funded immediately. in fact, according to commonwealth care website, abortion is considered covered as an outpatient medical care. so that's the point about being clear with the hyde type language, which is the nelson-hatch language, is it specifically says no, we're not going to fund this, we're going to continue this 33-year policy. and if we do fund abortion, if we put the caps funding in that does fund abortions, last time the federal government funded abortions was the three-year period after roe but before hyde, annually we were funding about 300,000 abortions a year, federal taxpayer dollars funding of abortion through medicaid. i cannot believe that any of my colleagues would say yes, i would be willing to buy into that, 300,000, when president obama, president clinton before said we want to make abortion safe, legal, and rare. well, 300,000 a year wouldn't be in that ballpark, and that's the
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past number that happened when you didn't have hyde language in place at the federal level. mr. hatch: it's just a big excuse. all this yelling and screaming when they say well, it equals the hyde language. it doesn't equal the hyde language. that's the problem. and if they -- if they want to solve the problem, why not use the hyde language that has been accepted by every congress since 1977. and you're right. 300,000 abortions between 1973- 1977 because we didn't have the hyde language, we got tired of it, tired of the taxpayers -- why should -- paying for it. why should taxpayers who are pro-life, for religious reasons or otherwise, have to pay for abortions, elective abortions by those who are not? they shouldn't have to. and to be honest with you, the language in the current bill is ambiguous, it would allow that, and anybody who is arguing that this is the same as the hyde
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language just hasn't read the caps language. and we want to change it so that we go with hyde. it doesn't affect the right to an abortion at all except that we're not going to have taxpayers paying for it. mr. thune: to the senator's point if he would yield on that point. that's what the stupak and other members of the house of representatives saw, that this created tremendous ambiguity, and they sought to tighten it up and reinstate what has been long-standing policy with regard to federal funds and their use to finance abortions since 1977 and the hyde language. and so the stupak amendment to the house bill, as you recall, passed with 240 votes. there was a sizable decisive majority of members in the house of representatives who saw through what the -- the am ambiguity that exists with regard to the house bill and now the senate bill. but this is intentionally ambiguous for the reason you just mentioned. all this simply does is clarify
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once and for all what has been standard policy here at the federal level going back to 1977. and as was stated earlier, i believe represents the consensus view in america, both republicans and democrats i think believe that this is ground that we all can stand on, irrespective of where people come down on this@@@@@@@ ,@ @ @ removes all this ambiguity and what to me is clearly intentional ambiguity with regard to this issue and the underlying bill.
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mr. hatch: i ask unanimous consent that senator cornyn be added as a cosponsor of the nelson-hatch-casey amendment. a senator: how much time is left on our side? the presiding officer: four minutes, 48 seconds. mr. johanns: i have been on the floor a number of times now debating this issue a while back on the motion to proceed and since this amendment has come out. the senator from utah, i don't believe i have seen a more concise, clear explanation of the history of the hyde language than i just saw over the last half an hour of debate here on the senate floor. you laid it out perfectly. you laid out how we have over a long period of time stayed with that hyde language. that was the agreement that had
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been reached. now, our colleague from texas said this is a foot in the door, and i agree with her. if this reid bill passes with the current language on abortion, it's not only a foot in the door, in my estimation it kicks down the door. it kicks down the door and sets up structure for funding, federal funding of abortions, and that's what we're going to end up with. now, a couple of weeks ago, i came to the floor when we were debating the motion to proceed and i said at that time -- i said, you know, to me, this is the pro-life vote, because if this bill goes to the floor, we now need 60 votes to get an amendment passed. i said i don't count the 60. i kind of issued a challenge. i said gosh, if there is any member who does have a list of 60 members who will vote for this amendment, i'm willing to take a look at that and change
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my view of the world. well, that hasn't happened. in fact, there are many predictions being made that sadly and unfortunately this amendment won't get the 60 votes needed. well, let me put this in context. for pro-life senators, this is the vote, but it doesn't stop here. in my estimation, you're pro-life on every vote. you don't get a pass on this vote or that vote or the next vote or whatever the vote is. you're pro-life all the way through. and even if this amendment doesn't pass, i wanted to make the case that then this bill should not go forward because it literally will create a system, a structure, a way to finance abortions. and i don't believe that that's what this country wants. many senators -- the senator from south dakota, the senator from kansas have very, very clearly made the case. the people in the united states do not want their tax dollars to
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go to buying abortions. and so my hope is that 60 will step up on this amendment. i'm sure going to support it. i'll speak everywhere i can in support of it. i just am so appreciative that senator nelson and senator hatch and senator casey brought this forward, and i'm glad to be a cosponsor. and it is my hope, it is my hope that this amendment will pass, but then it is my conviction that we need to stand strong throughout this debate and make sure that this language doesn't end up in the final bill. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. brownback: i think the -- the catholic bitches put it probably as concisely as anybody. they put it in this term -- they said in every major program where federal funds combine with nonfederal funds to support or purchase health coverage, congress has consistently sought
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to ensure that the entire package of benefits excludes elective abortions. that's what we've done. that's what we have done for 33 years until this moment. until the caps language that's the base in the reid bill, and now we would flip that on its head and we would say you can combine federal funds with nonfederal funds to pay for elective abortions. that was the policy prior to hyde in 1977. that funded then 300,000 abortions roughly a year at that point in time. there is no way in this country that that's the policy that the american people support. they don't. they would be divided about abortion. they are not divided about federal funding for elective abortions. no division about that at all. very consistent policy until we've seen the reid bill in this particular piece of legislation. and we have been quite consistent about that, so it would be my hope that my colleagues would say well, okay, i may be pro-choice but i have
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consistently supported hyde because i think that's -- we shouldn't be funding elective abortions, and i would hope that they would vote for the nelson-hatch amendment because of that very feature on this. it isn't about abortion. it's about the funding. it's about the funding of elective abortions, and tha t te range of reproductive health care. why are women being singled out here? it's so unfair. we've had a fir firewall in plae for 30 years. it said this: no federal funds can be used for abortion, but private funds can be used as long as abortion is legal, and it is. roe v. wade made it legal in the early stages of a pregnancy. women have that right. what this amendment does is says, there's one group of women here we're going to treat differently. we're going to take 1 procedure
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that only applies to them and say they can't buy health insurance for that toadure. only if it's a -- procedure. only if it's a separate rider, which everyone knows is unaffordable, impractical and will not work. i don't see any amendment here saying to men that if they want to have a procedure that relates to their reproductive health, they can't use their own private money to buy coverage for it. no, it's not in there. we don't tell men that if they want to make sure their can buy insurance coverage through their pharmaceutical plan for viagra that they can't do it. no, we don't do that and i wouldn't support that. it would be wrong. well, it's wrong to single out women and to say to women of this country, they can't use their own private funds to
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purchase insurance that covers the whole range of reproductive health care. now you have to look behind at this amendment to really understand how pernicious it really is. because the whole point of it is, and i -- five male colleagues on the other side of the aisle were on the floor for, i don't know, at least an hour pawckintalking about this amend. and each and every one of them want to make abortion illegal. there's no question about it. they want to take away a woman's right to choose, even in the earliest stages of a pregnancy. even if it impacts her health, her ability to remain fertile, her ability to avoid a very serious health issue, such as, a heart problem or a stroke. they don't want to have an exception for women's health.
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no questions that what they want. the presiding officer: the senator's 10 minutes is up. mrs. boxer: i ask unanimous consent for an additional 30 seconds and then i'll turn to senator lautenberg. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: so to sum up my part here, the amendment offered by nelson, hatch, vitter,et al, brownback, it hurts women. it singles out one legal procedure and says, you know what? you can't use your own private funds to buy insurance, so in case you need to use it for that legal procedure, you can't. i will yield the floor and note that senator lautenberg is here for five minutes. i'm sorry, it was senator murray for five -- the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. boxer: sorry.
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mrs. murray: thank you, madam president. mr. president, and thank you, madam chairman, for your debate on this and for outlining the serious concerns we have. and i rise today not only in strong opposition to the nelson amendment, but in strong support of women's health care choices, which this amendment would eliminate. mr. president, we can't allow a bill that does so much for women and for families and our our businesses and for the future strength of this nation to get bogged down in idealogical politics. because in every single sense of the word, health insurance reform is about choices. giving options to those who don't have them, options for better care or better quality and insurance that is within reach. this bill was never supposed to be about taking away choices and we cannot allow it to become that. mr. president, this bill already does so much for millions of women across america.
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already so far the senate has passed senator mikulski's amendment to make sure that all women have access to quality preventive health care services and that screenings that are so critical to keeping women's healthy -- women healthy are available. the bill -- this underlying bill will help women by ending discrimination based on gender rating or gender bias preexisting conditions on covering maternity care on covering preventive care and screenings including mammograms an baby care, expanding coverage, even if an employer doesn't cover it and cover those who are in an abusive relationship, if they leave, they and their children could lose their coverage. now, mr. president, the amendment before us today would undermine those efforts and goes against the spirit and the goal of this underlying bill. mr. president, all americans should be allowed to choose a plan that allows for coverage of
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any legal health care service no matter their income. and that, by the way, includes women. but if this amendment were to pass, it would be the first time that federal law would restrict what individual private dollars can pay for in the private health insurance marketplace. if this amendment were to pass, it would be the first time that federal law would restrict what individual private dollars can pay for in the private health insurance marketplace. now, the opponents of this bill have taken to the floor day in and day out for months arguing that this bill takes away choice. mr. president, this bill doesn't take away choice, but, boy, this amendment sure does. this amendment stipulates that any health plan receiving any funds under this legislation cannot cover abortion care even if such coverage is paid for using the private premiums that health plans receive directly
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from individuals. simply put, what this amendment does is if a health plan wants to offer coverage to individuals who receive affordability credits, no matter how small, that coverage cannot include abortion care. in this way, the amendment doesn't just restrict federal funds. it restricts private funds. and it doesn't just affect those receiving some amount of affordability credit. it also impacts people who are paying the entire cost of coverage but who just happen to purchase the same health plan as those with affordability credits. so the bottom line, mr. president, this amendment would be taking away options and choices for american women. mr. president, there's no question this amendment goes much farther than current law, no matter what our colleagues on the other side contend. current law restricts public funds from paying for abortion except in cases of rape or
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incest or where the woman's life is in danger. the existing bill that is before us represents a genuine compromise. it prohibits federal funding of abortion, other than the exceptions i just mentioned, but it also allows women to pay for coverage with their own private funds. it maintains current law. it doesn't roll it back. but this amendment that is now before us would be an unprecedented restriction on women's health choices and coverage. health insurance reform should be a giant step forward for the health and economic stability of all americans. this amendment would be a giant step backwards for women's health and women's rights. you know, women already pay higher costs for health care. we shouldn't be forced into limited choices as well. so, mr. president, we're standing on the floor today having a debate about a broken health insurance system. it is broken for women who are
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denied coverage or charged more for pre-existing conditions or pregnancy or c-sections -- mr. president, i ask for an additional 30 seconds. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: for people -- for women with domestic violence, c-sections that are classified as pre-existing conditions. it's broken when insurance companies charge women of child-bearing age more than men but don't cover maternity care or only offer it for hefty additional premiums. mr. president, the status quo is not working. women and their families need health insurance reform that gives them options, doesn't take them away, so i urge my colleagues stand up for real reform, reject this shortsighted amendment. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: i wanted to amendment the unanimous consent request to give senator lautenberg eight minutes and myself two minutes followed by senator cardin for five. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. the senator from new jersey.
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mr. lautenberg: mr. president, throughout my service in the senate, i have been a strong supporter for health care reform, but we can't allow reform to be used as an excuse to roll back women's rights they have had for almost a half a century. and that's why i strongly oppose the amendment offered by my friend, the senator from nebraska. i think he's wrong. what this amendment does is remove a woman's right to make her own decision as a practical matter. it's to prohibit any of the health plans on the exchange from covering abortion. and it will ban coverage even for women who don't get a dime in federal subsidies. women's reproductive rights are always being challenged here in
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the congress, but what about men's reproductive rights? so, mr. president, let's turn the tables here for a moment. what if we were to vote on a viagra amendment, restricting coverage for male reproductive services. the same rules would apply for vargas being proposed for abortion, and of course that means that no health plan on the exchange would cover viagra availability. how popular would that demand be around here? mr. president, i understand that abortion and drugs like viagra present different issues, but there is a fundamental principle that is the same, restricting access to reproductive health services for one gender. and this amendment is exclusively directed at a
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woman's right to decide for herself. it doesn't dare to challenge men's personal decisions. mr. president, i have the good fortune of being a father of three daughters and grandfather of six granddaughters, and i am deeply concerned by the precedent that this amendment would set. i don't want pligz making decisions -- i don't want politicians making decisions for my daughters or my granddaughters when he it comes to their health and well-being, but that's exactly what this amendment does. nothing made me happier than when any of my daughters announced their pregnancy and while i watched them grow and prosper in their health and well-being as they were carrying that child. and i was fully prepared to support a decision that they might make for the best health of that new baby and protecting
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her health to be able to offer her love and care for a new child as i saw in my years. and i don't -- i don't want to stand here and think that somebody is going to make a decision in this room that affects what my granddaughters or my daughters have to think about. they want to -- if they want to restrict themselves, let them do it, but why do -- can we stand here and permit this to take place when we are trying to make people he healthier and better informed? but this amendment wants to take away that right. right now, the majority of proper health insurance plans do offer abortion coverage. now, this amendment would force private health insurance companies to abandon those policies, eliminate services, and limit a woman's option.
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the amendment does not, contrary to statements made -- being made here on this floor, simply preserve the hyde language that has been in place for more than three decades. make no mistake, this amendment goes well beyond the concept of limiting federal funds from paying for abortion. this amendment would make it impossible for a woman who pays for her premiums out of her own pocket to purchase a private health plan that offers her the right to choose what is best for her, for her health, and her family's well-being. we have been working hard for a long time to eliminate discrimination against women in our current health care system, and right now our health care bill takes a balanced approach to abortion coverage.
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it preserves existing federal law. women have fought this nation's -- since this nation's founding to have full rights under the law, including suffrage, including many other things, but unfortunately this amendment would force them to take a step backwards, and i don't want to see it happen, and i urge my colleagues please use your judgment, make your own choices about your own families, make your decisions as to what you would recommend to a daughter or a wife, but for god's sake, let the woman choose what's best for her. and i urge my colleagues to vote against it. with that, i yield the time. the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: mr. president, thank you very much. i rise in strong opposition to the nelson-hatch amendment. and let me start off by saying
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that i support a woman's right of choice. it's a constitutionally affirmed right. and i understand how difficult and divisive this issue is. that is why the underlying bill that we have before us carries out the compromise that has already been reached between the pro-choice and pro-life supporters. it represents maintaining the federal prohibition on funds, federal funds for abortion but allows a woman to pay for abortion coverage through use of her own funds. that's the current law and that's what the underlying bill makes sure that we continue. many of us thought that the health care debate is critically important, it's controversial. let's not bring the abortion issue into the bill. the nelson-hatch amendment would go beyond that. it would restrict a woman's ability to use her own funds for coverage to pay for abortions. it blocks a woman from using
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their personal funds to purchase insurance plans with abortion coverage. if enacted for the first time in federal law, this amendment would restrict what individual private dollars can pay for in the private insurance marketplace. i might also point out that when you look at those who are supporting this amendment, you can't help but have some concern that this amendment is being offered as a way to derail and defeat the health care reform bill, because most of the people who are going to be supporting that amendment will vote in opposition to the bill. it's quite clear that the senate health reform bill already includes the language banning the federal funds for abortion services, so the supporters of this bill are not satisfied with the current funding ban. they're trying to use this to move the equation further in an effort to defeat the bill.
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i also would point out that this is really wrong as it relates to women in america. i am outraged that the suggestion that women who want abortion should be able to purchase a separate rider to cover them. why would we expect this overwhelmingly male senate to expect women to shop for a supplemental plan in anticipation of an unintended pregnancy or a pregnancy with health complications? who plans for that? the whole point of health insurance is to protect against unexpected instances. currently there are five states -- idaho, kentucky, oklahoma, missouri, and north dakota -- that only allow abortion coverage through riders. guess what? the individual market does not accept this type of a policy, it doesn't exist. abortion riders severely undermine patient privacy. as a woman would be placed in the position of having to tell their employer or their insurer,
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and in many cases their husband's employer, that they anticipate terminating a pregnancy. also requiring women to spend additional money to have comprehensive health care coverage is discriminatory. we don't do that for services that affect men's reproductive rights. and the last point i would mention is i hear frequently from my friends on the other side of the aisle that the statements that we make -- that is, those who support the bill, underlying bill, that this allows individuals who have their current insurance to be able to maintain their current insurance, builds on what's good in our health care system. well, this amendment takes away rights that people already have. so if you have insurance today as an individual that covers abortion services, if this amendment were adopted, you're not going to be able to get that. so we are denying people the ability to maintain their own current insurance if this amendment were adopted.
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it's the wrong amendment. the policy is wrong, but clearly on this bill it's wrong. i just urge my colleagues to accept the compromise that was reached on this bill, the compromise. many of us who would like to see us be more progressive in dealing with this issue, remove some of the discriminatory provisions that are in existing law, we understand that we'll have to wait for another day to do that. let's not confuse the issue of health care reform. let's defeat this amendment that would be discriminatory against -- against women. that's wrong. i urge my colleagues to reject the nelson-hatch amendment. with that, i would yield the floor. mrs. boxer: mr. president? i would like to thank senators murray, lautenberg, and cardin for participating in our half-hour of debate at this time. our block of time is almost used. but i'd like to close this half-hour by saying one word that i think is a beautiful
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word, and that word is fairness. fairness is a beautiful word, and it should always be the centerpiece of our work here. we should never single out one group of people for -- as targets. we should treat people the same. and it's been very clearly stated that the nelson-hatch amendment, like the stupak amendment in the house, singles out an area of reproductive health care that only impacts one group, and that's women. and it says to women they can't use their own private funds to buy coverage for the full range of reproductive health procedures. it doesn't say that to a man. it doesn't say to men you can't use your own funds to cover the costs of a pharmaceutical product that you may want for your reproductive health. it doesn't say that they can't use their own private funds for
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a surgical procedure that they may choose. that is in the arsenal that they may choose for their own reproductive rights. so we say to the men of this country, look, we're not singling out any procedure or any pharmaceutical product that you may want to use for your reproductive health care. we're saying if a private insurer offers it, you have the right to buy it. we are singling out women. and, again, let me say this as clearly as i can, mr. president. we've had a firewall between the use of private funds and federal funds. senator reid has keep that in place in the underlying bill. he keeps the status quo of the hyde amendment. the group here who are coming on the floor continually -- mostly men; i think so far all men,
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there may be some women that speak in their behalf but i haven't heard it -- are basically saying forget the firewall, forget it. women, you can't use your private funds and government will tell you what you can or can't do. you know, i'll tell you something, that's not what uncle sam should do. uncle sam should respect women, uncle sam should respect women, watch live gavel to gavel coverage on c-span2, the only network with a full debate, i'm edited and commercial free. now get the latest updates from the reporters and editors of the quarterly congressional roll call group. find out more at c-span's health care hub. now from london, prime


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