Senate Votes Against Nelson-Hatch Amendment Limiting Reproductive Choice

The U.S. Senate has rejected a religion-based amendment to the health-care reform bill that would have limited women’s access to abortion.

By a 54-45 vote Dec. 8, the Senate tabled the Nelson-Hatch amendment, which would have eliminated abortion coverage from insurance plans that receive federal funds, even if the coverage is paid for with private funds. The proposal, promoted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is similar to a controversial amendment added to the health-care bill in the House at the behest of the church hierarchy.

The Catholic bishops and allied Religious Right forces are lobbying aggressively to enshrine their doctrines about abortion in the health-care reform package.

Said Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn, “I am glad the Senate defeated this proposal. Health-care legislation should be based on the needs of the American people, not the doctrines of powerful religious interest groups.

“Women should be free to make decisions about reproductive health based on their own consciences, not the political decrees of church hierarchies,” Lynn continued. “Religious dogma must never be imposed through force of law.”