Senator Tom Harkin says the abortion restrictions included in the health care reform plan that passed the U.S. House last weekend go too far. Current federal restrictions prevent the use of federal funds to pay for abortions unless the life of the mother is threatened, or the pregnancy is the result of a rape or incest.
The House-passed restrictions would forbid the so-called “public option” that would compete with private insurance plans from covering abortions. Harkin, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, says senators will move forward “aggressively” with their own version of a health care plan.
“We’ll be on our bill and we’ll be debating it probably starting next week and going on through, well, probably right before Christmas,” Harkin says. However, Harkin predicts It will be 2010 before congress comes up with a final version. “Now I’m looking at probably a bill on the president’s desk sometime in January,” Harkin says. And Harkin has repeatedly predicted there are enough votes in the senate to pass a bill that would include the so-called “public option.”