Jillian Bandes
The Senate will vote as early as tomorrow on a measure that would decide whether the much-heralded Stupak amendment will find its way into the health care bill. It's not called the Stupak amendment anymore; it's now the Nelson-Hatch amendment, but would do the same thing Stupak intended: install the Hyde amendment (the law that currently prohibits federal funding of abortion) into the main Pelosi-Reid health care bill currently being debated in the Senate.

Why do we need an additional Nelson-Hatch abortion amendment in the health care bill if Hyde already exists? Because Hyde provisions only apply to annual appropriations bills. The health care bill is not an appropriations bill. Therefore, without Nelson-Hatch, the health care bill allows the federal government to legally fund abortion.

Nelson-Hatch allows insurers who participate in the government-run "exchange" health care plans to offer other plans that pay for abortion. It allows purchasers of government-run plans to purchase other plans that pay for abortion. But it doesn't allow a government-run plan to pay for abortion in any way.

Nelson-Hatch is consistent with the views of the vast majority of Americans who, regardless of whether they support abortion, don't think their fellow citizens should be forced to fund the procedure.

A vote on Nelson-Hatch could make or break the larger health care bill, encouraging Harry Reid to get his Democrats in line. Reid has an uphill struggle ahead of him. Pro-life Democrats such as Sen. Ben Nelson, (Neb.) and Sen. Robert Casey, (Pa.) have said they won't vote for the bill unless it contains Nelson-Hatch, and pro-life Democrats such as Sen. Barbara Mikulski, (Md.) say they might not vote for the bill if it does contain it.

Those pro-life Democrats claim they have the 60 votes to defeat Nelson-Hatch.... my guess is that they're bluffing, and that the amendment will eventually go through.

Jillian Bandes

Jillian Bandes is the National Political Reporter for Townhall.com