Senate Tackles Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Next Week

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 13, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Tackles Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Next Week

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 13, 2003

Washington, DC ( — The U.S. Senate will begin another round of debate on the partial-birth abortion ban starting Monday, and it may continue through the week.

As previously reported by, both the House and the Senate passed the ban on partial-birth abortions. However, the Senate added an amendment sponsored by pro-abortion Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) that expresses the Senate’s support for the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

The Harkin amendment is nonbonding and merely ceremonial in nature.

Selected members of each chamber normally meet in a conference committee to iron out the differences in bills passed by both legislative bodies. However, Senate Democrats refused to appoint their conferees in an attempt to hold up the legislation.

Pro-life lawmakers will hold a majority on the conference committee and will remove the Harkin amendment from the final version of the bill before it goes to President Bush for his signature.

Bush has indicated he wants the Harkin amendment removed before the bill reaches his desk.

Pro-abortion Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) agreed to appoint her side’s members only if the Senate would engage in a lengthy debate on Roe and partial-birth abortion. Boxer and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist eventually agreed on 8 hours of debate that will begin Monday and is expected to occur a couple hours each day over the course of the week.

Once the debate has concluded, Senate Democrats agree to appoint their members and the conference committee will craft the final bill.

However, after the bill is finalized, both chambers must approve the conference committee report. While the House should approve it by a strong bipartisan majority, there is some concern that pro-abortion senators will filibuster the conference report in the Senate.

Should that happen there may be enough votes to invoke cloture and end the filibuster, as senators approved the bill with 64 votes — 4 more than needed to end debate.

NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson commented, "President Bush, 70 percent of the public, and four Supreme Court justices say there is no constitutional right to deliver most of a living baby and then puncture her head with a scissors."

The partial-birth abortion ban, once signed by Bush, would be the first abortion restriction passed since the Roe decision in 1973.

ACTION: Call your senators and urge them to move the partial-birth abortion ban forward immediately without further delay. Tell them you want partial-birth abortions to be stopped now. You can reach any senator at 202-224-3121 or find specific contact information at