U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., said Tuesday that he hopes the fight over abortion will end up killing Democratic attempts to pass health care reform.
“If the issue of abortion funding brings down this bill, it will be a victory for the cause of protecting innocent human life,” Brownback said in an opinion piece that was posted on the Politico web site.
Last week, Brownback was part of a “prayercast” conducted by the Family Research Council in opposition to the bill.
The Senate is poised to approve its health care bill this week, while the House approved one in November. The two versions would have to be resolved by a House-Senate conference committee before a final bill could go to President Barack Obama.
The House version contains stricter abortion language in which insurers would be prohibited from offering coverage for abortions to anyone who receives a federal subsidy to buy a private health insurance plan on a new marketplace, called an exchange.
Under the Senate bill, women who receive a subsidy for policies that cover abortion could keep that coverage but must pay a separate premium for the abortion coverage. States also could decide that no plans including abortion coverage could be allowed on the exchange in their state.
But Brownback said that while states may have the ability to opt out, taxpayers in those states “would still see their federal tax dollars fund elective abortions in other states.”
He said the arguments over abortion may doom the bill because some Democrats believe the House abortion language is too strict, while others say they can’t support reform without those provisions.
“Since the Democrats are working with a thin margin of support for the bill in the House, it is just possible that the attempt to use health care reform to force taxpayer funding for abortion will end up killing the bill,” Brownback said.
The bills would require nearly all citizens to have insurance and provide subsidies to help lower-income people purchase coverage. Insurance companies would be prohibited from denying coverage to people with pre-existing health conditions.
In his weekly address last week, Obama urged passage of reform legislation, saying it will reduce the cost of health care and strengthen Medicare.
In addition, he said, the proposals “represent the toughest measures we’ve ever taken to hold the insurance industry accountable.”