Senate Continues Partial-Birth Abortion Debate

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 16, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Continues Partial-Birth Abortion Debate

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 16, 2003

Washington, DC ( — The Senate, on Tuesday evening, continued debating the partial-birth abortion ban and counting down the hours until the process moves forward and the bill can be sent to President Bush for his signature.

Members of the Senate agreed to eight hours of debate following pro-abortion lawmakers’ refusal to appoint members to a conference committee that would work out differences between the House and Senate version of the ban.

The Senate version contains a ceremonial amendment that affirms the Senate’s support for the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion and said it should not be overturned. Pro-life lawmakers that want that stricken from the bill before it goes to the president.

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), the sponsor of the ban and a leading pro-life senator, said he couldn’t believe abortion advocates would hold up the bill by opposing what is normally a noncontroversial conference committee process.

"I have been in the Senate about 9 years and have never had a debate on a conference committee motion," Santorum explained.

On Monday night, pro-abortion Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) spoke during her side’s first two hours of debate. She claimed partial-birth abortions were needed for a plethora of reasons to protect the health of the mother. Santorum disagreed.

"It is used on babies who would otherwise be born alive who are in post-21 weeks of gestation. These babies are, in 95 percent plus of the cases, healthy and the mother is healthy," Santorum explained.

Santorum indicated the amendment endorsing Roe v. Wade was "truly an extreme amendment. We have wrongly and unjustly said in the Senate that this should be the law of the land."

"What that language said is that we believe in the absolute right of a woman to kill the child within her at any point in time for any reason. I would argue that is a twisting of the Constitution and it is something we have not seen done in this country since the Dred Scott decision," Santorum concluded.

Pro-abortion Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), the author of the Roe amendment, also joined the debate. He said Santorum’s labeling of his amendment as "extreme" wasn’t incorrect.

"The vast majority of the American public and the vast majority of American women support Roe v. Wade. Every woman in America ought to know that their right to choose is close to being taken away."

However, two recent polls show a majority of women are pro-life.

An August poll conducted by The Polling Company showed 54 percent of women selected one of three different pro-life views opposing all or almost all abortions. Only 39 percent backed abortion.

In June, the Center for the Advancement of Women released the results of a poll showing that 51 percent of women took a pro-life position. Their poll also found that keeping abortion legal was the next to last most important priority for women as compared with other public policy issues.