House Overwhelmingly Approves Partial-Birth Abortion Ban
by Steven Ertelt
October 2, 2003
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The House of Representatives on Thursday voted overwhelmingly in favor of the ban on partial-birth abortions and now the focus turns to the Senate to approve the bill and send it to President Bush for his signature.
Despite threats from pro-abortion groups that they will take the ban to court once Bush signs it, the House voted for the pro-life legislation 281-142.
Both houses passed the ban earlier this year. However, the Senate added a resolution backing Roe v. Wade that a conference committee removed on Tuesday. Both the House and Senate are required to approve the committee’s report before the ban can be sent to President Bush.
During the debate, abortion advocates said the bill was unconstitutional and the Supreme Court will overturn the legislation as it did with a Nebraska ban in 2000.
"This conference report is patently unconstitutional. The supporters of this report are trying to paper over a Supreme Court decision," said pro-abortion Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD). "They have added dozens of pages of Congressional finding that conclude partial-birth abortion is never medically necessary. It will fail in the courts."
Pro-life lawmakers have reworked the definition of the partial-birth abortion procedure to better comply with Supreme Court requirements as given in the Stenberg v. Carhart decision in 2000 that overturned Nebraska’s partial-birth abortion ban
Pro-life Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH) said legislators have included a lengthy findings section with extensive medical research showing that partial-birth abortions are never medically indicated for women or to end the lives of babies with physical disabilities.
"Partial-birth abortion is dangerous to women and never necessary to protect their health," Chabot explained. "Most in the mainstream medical community view partial-birth abortion as an experimental procedure."
Pro-life Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) also disagreed with Hoyer and said the Supreme Court normally defers to Congress on research of issues and finding of facts.
Members also debated whether partial-birth abortions were medically necessary or beneficial for women and children.
"Let’s be clear, abortion is child abuse and exploits women. Women deserve nonviolent, positive, life affirming alternatives to abortion," explained pro-life Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ).
"Partial-birth abortion seriously jeopardizes a woman’s health and her future ability to carry a pregnancy to term," Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) added.
Abortion advocates argued partial-birth abortions were necessary in cases where the brain of a developing baby develops outside of the body.
"These are not children who will be born and run around the room," Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) said of babies who are killed by the abortion procedure.
"The vast majority of abortions are performed on normal babies," Sensenbrenner rebutted. He said Ohio abortion practitioner Martin Haskell, who invented the abortion procedure, said 80 percent of the partial-birth abortions he’s performed have been on healthy mothers and healthy babies.
Pro-life lawmakers added that partial-birth abortions are never needed to help women.
"We already know from former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop that abortion is never medically necessary to protect a woman’s health," explained Rep. Jo Ann Davis (R-VA).
Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-MO) was not present for the vote and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) voted against the ban.
To see how your member voted, go to https://clerk.house.gov/cgi-bin/vote.exe?year=2003&rollnumber=530.