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Magnuson said he would also expect the House to accept language permitting government funding if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.
House members Silvio Conte (R-Mass.) and David Obey (D-Wis.), both of whom voted with the majority yesterday, said the Magnuson proposal might form the basis for some compromise, although Conte said he didn't want rape and incest exempted from the anti-abortion provision.
Earlier on the floor, Conte had warned that if the final version expressly permits abortion in pregnancies resulting from rape, there would be "false reporte of rape in order to be eligible for federal funds."
Conte and Obey are both House conferees.
The abortion dispute, one of the bitterest and most vexatious to face this Congress has been going on for months. Last year, on a provision sponsored by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), Congress voted to ban free Medicaid abortions for welfare clients unless the pregnancy threatened the woman's life.
The Hyde provision attached to a money bill, expires Oct. 1. Hyde, backed by a big House majority, moved earlier this year to continue the anti-abortion provision for another year. The restriction was attached to the $60.1 billion money bill for the Labor and Health, Education and Welfare departments.
However, the Senate, by a big majority, voted a much weaker provision. It allows abortions to be funded by Medicaid not only when the woman's life is endangered by the pregnancy but also whenever a doctor condiders abortion "medically necessary." It also permits federal funds to be used where the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.
House conferees said the phrase "medically necessary" was so broad it would allow abortion for almost any reason - discomfort, psychological stress, unhappiness, minor physical conditions.
The two chambers have gone around the track several times on the issue, but Magnuson two weeks ago said he wouldn't meet with House conferees again unless the House took a direct up-or-down vote on the Senate language. This threatened to hold up the $60.1 billion money bill past the start of the new fiscal year Oct, 1, and House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill (D-Mass.) arranged for such a vote yesterday.
The 252-164 margin by which the Senate language was crushed was even larger than the 238-182 tally by which the House approved its own language on Aug. 2. It reaffirmed the House position but it also satisfied the Magnuson demand for a test vote on the Senate language and thus paved the way for a new conference - and perhaps some compromise along Magnuson's lines.