Abortion may test final health bill deal

Dec. 20, 2009 at 3:50 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Signs were emerging this weekend that abortion politics could become a key obstacle to a final deal to reform the U.S. health system, analysts say.

A power play by Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., to include language restricting the coverage of abortions under the reformed system was successful in securing his vote in the Senate, giving Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada a filibuster-proof 60 votes, Politico reported Sunday.

But others on both ends of the abortion spectrum immediately voiced objections, portending contentious debates when House and Senate Democrats hash out a final compromise, Politico reported. It noted that a leading abortion opponent in the House, Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., has indicated he doesn't think the language Nelson won in the Senate bill goes far enough.

Meanwhile, Democratic Reps. Diana DeGette of Colorado and Louise Slaughter of New York, the co-chairs of the House abortion-rights caucus, also have not ruled out opposing Nelson's change because, they say, it might be unconstitutional.

Politico said the Friday courting of Nelson was an intense, high-stakes negotiation that won many benefits for his state.

"I always put Nebraska first," Nelson said. "But I looked at this through the standpoint of Nebraskans and the country."

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