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Anti-Abortion Rider Defeated in U.S. Senate

WASHINGTON (CN) - Senators rejected an amendment 54-45 that would have restricted abortion funding Tuesday, promising a vicious struggle when both chambers combine their versions of the health bill.

The amendment's rejection leaves the Senate bill with a more moderate funding restriction, which allows insurance plans to cover abortions, but requires that they be paid with private money.

Fifty Democrats and two Republicans, Maine Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, voted against the amendment. Seven Democrats joined 38 Republicans in supporting it.

The failed amendment, offered by Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson and Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, mirrors one adopted in the house last month by a 240 to 192 vote, and would have prohibited any insurance plan paid for with new federal subsidies to cover abortions.

The failure of the amendment - which was perceived as a compromise to net the support of pro-life Democrats - may also mean some loss of support for the bill as a whole.

Sixty votes are needed to end debate on the bill, but only 51 are needed to ultimately pass it.

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