Skip to comments.Republican majority may hasten ban on 'partial-birth' abortions
Posted on 08/31/2003 7:33:52 AM PDT by Libloather
Republican majority may hasten ban on 'partial-birth' abortions
By JUDY HOLLAND
Hearst News Service
Aug. 29, 2003, 8:52PM
WASHINGTON -- Republicans are confident they are on the cusp of winning an eight-year battle to outlaw a controversial medical procedure that opponents call "partial-birth" abortion, the first in a handful of measures aimed at enacting limits on abortion.
They also are upbeat about approving legislation that would make it a federal crime to kill or harm a fetus.
The Republican control of Congress and the White House make it more likely than ever that the anti-abortion bills will become law this year.
Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and a leading abortion foe, said both measures are top GOP priorities. He said he was optimistic President Bush would sign both into law this fall.
Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, said the "public mood is right," for passage of the late-term abortion ban and the fetal protection bill, predicting both measures "will become the law of the land in the near future."
Chabot, a sponsor of the so-called partial-birth abortion ban, described it as "one of the most barbaric and gruesome procedures one can imagine."
"If we want to consider ourselves civilized, it ought not to be allowed," Chabot said.
On the partial-birth abortion measure, negotiators are expected to hammer out differences in House- and Senate-approved versions next month and send the legislation to Bush, who repeatedly has pledged to sign such legislation.
The measure would ban the dilation and extraction method of abortion, which is used in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. The procedure involves delivering the lower part of the fetus, puncturing and collapsing its head inside the woman's body and delivering a dead fetus.
Abortion foes liken the procedure to infanticide. But abortion rights advocates contend that the ban could lead to restrictions on other types of abortion that are legal and medically necessary. They say this is the first step in a strategy to undermine the right to abortion established by the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision 30 years ago.
Congress twice passed similar bills, but President Clinton vetoed them in 1996 and 1997.
Kate Michelman, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said the ban "really will put government squarely into the personal lives of women."
"This is one of the most aggressively hostile legislative, political environments ever," Michelman said.
Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said abortion rights advocates are planning to fight in the courts "in a nanosecond" if Bush signs the ban on dilation and extraction procedures.
"We have a president who fundamentally opposes a woman's right to make her own reproductive decisions and with Republicans in control of the Senate, there is no firewall to stop the juggernaut," Feldt said.
Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, says the outlook for passage of anti-abortion measures "is more favorable than it was in the last Congress, because of Senate control by Republicans."
Senate Republican leaders plan this fall to take up the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which would make it a federal crime to kill or harm a fetus or embryo at any stage after implantation in the womb.
The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, would recognize a fetus as an independent being if killed or wounded during the commission of a federal crime. It would define the "unborn child" as a "member of the species Homo sapiens at any stage of development.
Abortion rights advocates warn that the legislation would open the door to classifying an embryo or fetus as a legal person in other contexts and could interfere with a woman's right to abortion.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is sponsoring a competing bill that would allow prosecutors to charge a defendant who attacks a pregnant woman with a separate offense if the assault interferes with her pregnancy.
Feinstein said her approach would ensure that perpetrators of crimes against pregnant women are punished without giving legal rights to fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses that are separate from those of the woman.
House Republicans, who also plan to move the measure this fall, have named it "Laci and Conner's Law," in reference to the killing of a Modesto, Calif., woman and her unborn son in April. Laci Peterson disappeared last Christmas and her body was found in the San Francisco Bay a mile from that of her fetus, with the umbilical cord still attached. She had planned to name him Connor.
A few more *Crinton mistakes...
That's standard Orwellian NewSpeak when it comes to this issue.
Yes, it will put government squarely into the "stop-killing-live-children" business.
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