Republicans won't even have a majority in the Senate to add abortion provisions to the health bill, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) suggested Monday night.
Brown said that the Senate bill faces no threat from Republicans and pro-life Democrats looking to add language to the bill that would impose new rules on federal subsidies for abortion, mirroring an amendment attached by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) to the House bill.
"I don't think that it's a threat at all," Brown said Monday night during an appearance on MSNBC. "There aren't more than four or five Democratic senators that I would say are anti-choice. There are at least, I think, two Republican senators who are pro-choice."
Liberal Democrats have decried the Stupak amendment as clamping down on existing abortion rights, and 41 House Democrats, led by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), have pledged to vote against a final health bill that includes any such provisions.
Some senators had signaled that abortion language would be necessary in the Senate bill, including on-the-fence Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). However, CNN reported Monday night that Nelson had relented on that issue, and had concluded that abortion language in the Senate Finance Committee was adequate.
Brown said that DeGette had told him that the House bill could not pass with Stupak's language. If the Senate were to include such language, it would prove a significant hurdle to clear in conference for Democrats hoping to get rid of the language.