Sen Mike Johanns, R-NE, laid a challenge at the feet of the small handful of pro-life Democrats in the Senate, saying just one needs to come forward and vote against proceeding to the Senate Democratic leader's healthcare reform bill, one Johanns declared inadequate in ensuring that no federal funds can be spent on abortion.
"We don't need 40 Democrats to stand up for what's right. We need just one. if just one pro-life Democrat would say i will not vote to move this bill until it's fixed, until it's truly pro-life, that would happen. So those who say they are pro-life but refuse to take that stand, I worry are not standing up for life. "
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, attempted to fence off federal money from covering abortion in his bill, but pro-life critics say the effort fails. The HHS Secretary is to ensure that each state has one private plan that covers abortion in the state-based healthcare exchanges. The public option is not permitted to cover the procedure.
But those who oppose abortion want to see the stricter language that passed in the House - where abortions are not permitted in plans on the new exchanges where federal subsidies might be used to buy abortion coverage.
A new Pew poll showed that only three percent of Americans who oppose the Democrats healthcare legislation do so because of abortion, still it was an issue that nearly brought the House healthcare bill down.
Johanns issued a challenge that surely had his senior colleague from his home state, Dem Sen Ben Nelson, in mind, saying that merely voting to proceed just to try to change the bill was unacceptable.
Nelson said as much in a statement Wednesday night, that merely voting to proceed was not a vote of support for the bill, rather it was a vote in favor of moving forward and trying to make changes.
Johanns said he believes there are not the necessary 60 votes to strip out what he sees as offensive abortion language.
"I ask for a pro-life senator to come down here and stand up on this bill. Pro-life Americans are waiting, and they aren't fooled."