This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," December 21, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, he's in the minority out of the majority party, at least on one issue. He's a pro-life Democrat, and he voted for the health care bill. Is Senator Bob Casey convinced your tax dollars will not fund abortion? Senator Casey went "On the Record."
VAN SUSTEREN: The big issue with you, of course, is the -- or at least, I think -- is the abortion language in the bill. You support what Senator Nelson has put together, and you were part of this discussion. Why?
SEN. BOB CASEY, D - PENN.: Well, because what I was trying to do, in addition to getting the bill passed -- which I think was essential - - was to continue what I believe has been a consensus for more than a quarter century now not to have public dollars pay for abortions. I think we've gotten that right. Some think it's not strong enough. Some will criticize it from both the left and the right, but I believe it's a good arrangement for this new piece of legislation, parts of which, features of which we've never seen before.
We've never had an insurance exchange, so it was more complicated to get that done. And also, I think we've respected a lot of people in America who, due to their conscience, don't want their premium dollars paying for abortions. So it's -- it was an attempt to do that. I think we've gotten it right, and we'll see what happens going forward. But it's part of the larger effort to get a bill passed.
VAN SUSTEREN: And I suppose I should add that you are a very strong pro-life Democrat. There's no question about that.
CASEY: No question. But I also believe that this presented us an opportunity not just to work on the abortion provisions, but to add some things. I got a $1.2 billion adoption tax credit, which is brand-new. And also, for the first time ever, we have a pregnant and parenting teens and college women fund for pregnant women. And also, pregnant women will benefit who happen to be victims of domestic violence and stalking and other kinds of violence. So that's brand-new, and I think the total effect of that is to reduce the number of abortions, as well as helping very vulnerable pregnant women in our society.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why not Stupak language? Because you could have adopted the Stupak language from the House.
CASEY: Well, we had a vote on that. I was one of seven Democrats voting for it, and I co-sponsored the amendment. But once that went down, we had to think of another alternative because even though some will criticize what we've put together, if we just abandon the effort after the same amendment, similar amendment, the Nelson-Hatch amendment, went down, we would be left with this direct conflict between what the House had done and what our base Senate bill had, a very liberal version and a very conservative version. So we're trying to get -- get something in between. I think we got very close to what I had hoped we would do in the process.
VAN SUSTEREN: You talked about critics. One of the set of critics are the bishops, the Catholic bishops. They don't like this at all. So what do you say to them?
CASEY: Well, I think in total, though, they were -- they commended the adoption tax credit and the pregnant women's fund. It's never happened before.
VAN SUSTEREN: They don't like the abortion, though. They don't like the abortion part.
CASEY: They're critical of that, and they -- look, they have a point of view that they don't like segregation of funds. I believe what I did and what Senator Nelson and others did made those segregation provisions much stronger and also, I think, continued the consensus. There'll be a lot of debates about it, but I don't think there was just one way to get this right. Some people in Washington think it was the way the House did. I think there were several ways to get it right. We chose one that we had to put together as a matter of consensus.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I imagine that some of your Democratic colleagues who are pro-choice didn't like the segregated funds aspect of it, either, because there's -- Planned Parenthood doesn't like that. The president of the National Organization for Women doesn't like it, a lot of women's groups saying that you're chilling the women's right to choose.
CASEY: Well, that's -- that's when you know you might be close to a consensus or something in the middle, when you have both groups on the right and the left criticizing it. I'm not sure we could have pleased either end of the spectrum on this, but I think it's a good consensus and common ground provision, and I think it allows us to move forward and vote on the bill.
After all, if you really say you're pro-life, you should want to cover 31 million Americans and provide all kinds of preventative services that will make women and their children a lot more healthy. So I don't think you can have it both ways and say you're pro-life but you don't want to support health care reform. But we'll see what happens in the House.
VAN SUSTEREN: With the Nelson -- I call it the Nelson amendment. I don't know if that's the right word to use. But anyway, with the language about abortion, what's your level of certainty federal funds won't be used either directly or collaterally or through the back door for abortions?
CASEY: I think you can achieve that in the context of an exchange, which is much different than we had prior to this. We...
VAN SUSTEREN: So 100 percent?
CASEY: I think we've done it. Prior to this, though, it was a lot simpler because when you didn't have an exchange, all you had was Medicaid and public programs. For example, if we had a public option, prohibiting or -- prohibiting taxpayer money for paying for abortion or using Hyde language would be much more readily applicable to that. Unfortunately, in the exchange, it's a lot more challenging because you have public subsidies and you also have private premium dollars.
I think we got it right. I think the segregation provisions are strong. And I also think the provisions that deal with giving people some ability to select -- Senator Nelson added the provision where they would write two separate checks and the two checks would go to different funds. That -- I think that's helped -- helped enormously.
But we'll have to see at it becomes implemented. I don't think anyone is -- knows exactly how this will work in the end because the exchange is something brand-new to our system and certainly brand-new to health care. So we'll have to test it when it's implemented, but I think we can reach common ground on this.
VAN SUSTEREN: So how was the discussion on Friday as this was all coming down? Did it get heated in -- behind the doors?
CASEY: Well, we've had lots of discussions on several different issues that get heated. But even within the Democratic Party, you know, you have different points of view. I just wish we had more Republicans who were willing to help us pass the bill, but we didn't. So this became an intraparty discussion, and I think we were able to resolve it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you, sir.
CASEY: Thanks, Greta.
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