Could abortion battle derail health bill?

It looks like the Democrats will be working extra hard to get the votes of the two Republicans from Maine. From the Politico:

In the past week, abortion has flared up as a major impediment to passage of a health care reform bill in the Senate, taking a similar path as it did during the House debate — from obscurity to obstacle in a matter of days.

After months of trying to craft a 60-vote coalition based on the finer points of health care policy, Senate Democrats are growing increasingly worried that abortion will upend what had become a clear path to approving the overhaul bill.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) sparked a fresh round of concern this week when he repeatedly and definitively vowed to filibuster the health care legislation unless it included abortion restrictions as tough as the so-called Stupak amendment in the House bill.

“I don’t ordinarily draw a line in the sand, but I have drawn a line in the sand,” Nelson said Friday.

Nelson certainly has a long history of agitating his party by withholding his vote until he wrings out every last concession from Senate leaders. But on the uncompromising issue of abortion, Democrats fear he may really be serious this time.

“There is a worry that Sen. Nelson means business,” said a senior Senate Democratic aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss strategy. “Unlike with public option, there is very little ground liberal Democrats are willing to give on this issue. Abortion, not the public option, may be the cause of our first official defection.” . . .

Fox News had this description:

Democrats are so far apart on their difference that they can't even bring up amendments to deal with them. It's so bad that, just to fill time, they spent most of Friday on nonbinding proposals that state they should be fiscally responsible, measures that would have no binding impact on health care legislation at all.

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