Republicans Bluffing on Abortion in Healthcare Bill Too?

Are they serious about opposing the Hyde Amendment?

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By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

I wrote earlier about how Senate GOP threats to kill the reconciliation bill seem like so much bluffing--are they really going to fight against the repeal of the "Cornhusker Kickback"? There are new reports today that these may not be the only hollow threats coming from the GOP attempting to scare Democrats.

TNR's Jonathan Chait has the outlines of a deal House leadership might cut with prolife Democrats to secure their votes for the healthcare reform bill: Prolifers would vote for the bill on Sunday and in exchange they would get a vote at a later date "to codify the Henry Hyde language ensuring that federal money does not subsidize abortion." Needless to say, Republicans are trying to sink such a deal by saying that they would vote against it.

But Chait points out two problems with these threats. The first is that--like the Senate GOP's promises to kill the reconciliation bill--they are hollow. "Once the healthcare bill has passed, what incentive do they have to vote against abortion restrictions?" he asks. "They have an incentive to say so now, to spook antiabortion Democrats into voting no, but I fail to see their incentive two months from now should the bill become law."

Chait's second objection follows: If "prolife" Republicans did vote against the Hyde amendment it would prove that their protestations about protecting the unborn were more about advancing the GOP than about saving human life.

We may find out the ground truth soon enough: Bart Stupak, the prolife Democrat ringleader, has called a press conference for 11am on Saturday. We'll see if a deal has been cut.

Update: TPM has more details on what might be in an abortion agreement. (And just to be clear: Despite what you might have heard, the healthcare bill doesn't use taxpayer money to fund abortions.)

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