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Democrats Fail Again to Move Defense Bill with Abortion Funding

12-10-10 Posted by Admin in Abortion, Blog 0 Comments

By Lisa Correnti

While much of the national debate was focused on the controversial “Don’t, Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal contained in the National Defense Authorization Act, the legislation still contained language allowing for taxpayer funded abortions on military bases.

In his second attempt to pass a Department of Defense appropriations bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D, Nevada) failed to gain the necessary 60 votes to end debate and move the bill to the Senate floor. The procedural motion failed by a vote of 57-40, with all Democrats in support except the newly sworn-in senator Senator Joe Manchin (D, West Virginia).

Senator Manchin ran as a pro-life candidate for the late Senator Robert Byrd’s seat in the November 2 special election. Since he was elected to finish Senator Byrd’s term, he was sworn in at the first possible moment on November 15.

All Republicans voted as a party except Senator Susan Collins (R, Maine). Senator Collins supports abortion rights and has a 22% pro-life, pro-family voting record according to the Catholic Advocate Scorecard.

The abortion funding amendment was added in committee by Senator Roland Burris (D-Illinois) who was appointed to fill President Obama’s Illinois Senate seat. Senator Burris did not seek reelection. Senator Mark Kirk (R, Illinois) won the special election in early November and was sworn in on November 29 to finish the term. Kirk compiled a 66% pro-life voting record during his time in the House of Representatives and on this vote joined with those who successfully prevented it from moving forward thus undoing the work of his predecessor.

Catholic Advocate, along with National Right to Life and the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, opposed the inclusion of the Burris amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act since it allows funding for abortions at military clinics both domestically and abroad. Present law states “abortions may not be performed by Department of Defense medical personnel or in Department of Defense medical facilities except when the life of the mother is at risk, or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.”

In September, a first attempt was made by Senator Reid to gain cloture and end a Republican filibuster. Reid failed to gain 60 votes by a vote of 56-43. The Republican filibuster was a response to Senator Reid’s refusal to allow any amendments including Senator Roger Wicker (R, Mississippi) not being permitted to offer an amendment that would strip the bill of the abortion funding.

Seventeen Catholic senators voted this week in support of the abortion funding:

Senator Mark Begich (D, Alaska)

Senator Michael Bennet (D, Colorado)

Senator Maria Cantwell (D, Washington)

Senator Bob Casey (D, Pennsylvania)

Senator Susan Collins (R, Maine)

Senator Chris Dodd (D, Connecticut)

Senator Dick Durbin (D, Illinois)

Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D, New York)

Senator Tom Harkin (D, Iowa)

Senator John Kerry (D, Massachusetts)

Senator Mary Landrieu (D, Louisiana)

Senator Pat Leahy (D, Vermont)

Senator Claire McCaskill (D, Missouri)

Senator Bob Menendez (D, New Jersey)

Senator Barbara Mikulski (D, Maryland)

Senator Patty Murray (D, Washington)

Senator Jack Reed (D, Rhode Island)

Lisa Correnti is Founder of

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