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Senate Rejects Pro-Life Amendment

Christian advocacy groups lost a major abortion policy battle Tuesday. The Senate voted to table the amendment to the health care bill that would have barred any direct or indirect funding of abortion. The amendment was sponsored by Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both from Maine, voted with all of the Democrats against the Nelson-Hatch amendment. The amendment was supported by the other Senate Republicans as well as Nelson, Evan Bayh (Ind.), Robert Casey (Pa.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Byron Dorgan (N.D.), Ted Kaufman (Del.), and Mark Pryor (Ark.).

The amendment was widely supported by Christian advocacy groups.

Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), and Galen Carey, NAE Director of Government Affairs, wrote an open letter to all U.S. Senators warning, "if the Nelson-Hatch amendment is not included in the bill, the [NAE] will vigorously oppose passage of the final bill."

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, called the plan to allow federal funding of abortion in both the public plan and through subsidies "unconscionable." Like other groups, the ERLC saw the Nelson-Hatch amendment as merely keeping the status quo on abortion funding.

"The vote reflects a callous disregard for the protection of innocent human life," said the American Center of Law and Justice (ACLJ). "Rejecting this Amendment is disappointing, but not surprising."

Some groups took aim directly at Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who has previously opposed any federal funding of abortion and was considered to be a pro-life Democrat.

The Family Research Council (FRC) accused Reid of changing ...

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