Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska said in a Thursday conference call that Harry Reid’s abortion language in the Senate health care bill was merely a “bookkeeping gimmick” that would not prevent federal funding for abortion.
Under the language approved by the House of Representatives, nobody could use federal subsidies toward the purchase of a policy that covered abortion. But under pressure from pro-choice groups, Reid placed language in the Senate bill that would work out a complicated formula aimed at segregating funds so that women who received federal subsidies could still purchase policies with abortion services as long as the subsidies didn’t support the cost of the abortion coverage.
“It’s a bookkeeping gimmick,” Johanns said. “The same argument was made on the House side and it was just aggressively rejected by the pro-life community and by those House members who stood up.
He explained, “A premium is a premium. The government is going to have its dollars in that and this idea that somehow you’re segregating that just isn’t going to past muster. You just can’t draw that line in a bookkeeping entry, and they know it. What they’re trying to do is to provide some cover to pro-life members, but the pro-life community has aggressively rejected that.”
Johanns also warned that if Reid gets the necessary 60 votes on Saturday’s motion to bring the bill to the Senate floor in its current form, that the abortion language will not get changed. Once the bill is on the floor, it would take 60 votes to amend it, and there aren’t that many pro-life votes in the Senate. That’s why he said it was crucial to stop the bill from moving to the floor in the first place.
“The real key vote here is on the motion to proceed if you’re pro-life,” he said.
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