Committee Approves Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, House Votes Thursday

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 1, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Committee Approves Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, House Votes Thursday

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 1, 2003

Washington, DC ( — On Tuesday, members of a conference committee approved 6-4 a final version of the partial-birth abortion ban that removes a pro-Roe v. Wade amendment included on the Senate side. Both chambers must now approve the committee’s report and the House vote is expected on Thursday.

"We are just days away from prohibiting the gruesome and inhumane procedure known as partial-birth abortion," pro-life Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) said at the conference committee meeting.

Both houses are expected to agree to the report, though a last-minute filibuster in the Senate could materialize.

Sixty-four senators vote for the ban, although 17 members voted both for the ban and the pro-Roe amendment. Abortion advocates would have to obtain the support of most of those to defeat an anti-filibuster vote — a task that may prove too difficult to accomplish.

A filibuster threat doesn’t concern the Senate sponsor of the bill.

"I don’t know anyone who supported the bill because of the Harkin language, so I don’t anticipate any diminution of the vote," pro-life Sen. Rick Santorum told the Washington Times.

Santorum does expect abortion advocates in the Senate to demand a length floor debate before approving the bill.

However, Douglas Johnson of National Right to Life tells that the Senate is expected to recess on October 3, and pro-abortion senators could force a delay on the vote until the Senate returns October 13.

After both houses approve the report, the bill goes to President Bush and he is expected to sign it quickly.

The committee approved the bill on a party-line vote. Since Republicans control both houses, they were able to appoint a majority of the conference members and leaders from both houses allowed key pro-life lawmakers to sit on the panel.

The House and Senate, by about two to one margins, approved the bans earlier this year. However, an amendment added in the Senate would have expressed support and approval of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion and encouraged the Supreme Court not to overturn it.

Democrats on the committee tried twice to include a pro-abortion "health" exception to the bill, but were defeated twice on party-line votes.

Pro-life groups oppose health exceptions because abortion practitioners can define any reason for an abortion as a "health" exception — rendering the ban useless.

On Wednesday evening, from about 8:30 to about 9:30 PM EST, pro-life lawmakers will give a series of speeches on the House floor in favor of the bill. This "special order" will be led by pro-life Reps. Mike Pence (R-IN) and Mark Kennedy (R-MN). C-SPAN is expected to cover the speeches live.

Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood, claimed the bill was "the culmination of a deceptive campaign that is endangering women’s health and lives."

Pro-abortion groups plan to challenge the ban in court as soon as Bush signs the bill into law.

President Clinton twice vetoed a similar ban — in April 1996 and October 1997.

ACTION: Contact your representative and senators immediately and urge them to approve the partial-birth abortion ban. You can reach any member of Congress at 202-224-3121.