by Steven Ertelt
August 14, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A leading pro-life group is urging pro-life advocates to lobby their pro-life and Republican members of the Senate to urge them to vote on lifting a block Senate Democrats have put on a bill that prevents taking teenagers to another state for a secret abortion.
Though the Senate signed off on the Child Custody Protect Act, its bill differs with a House-approved measure and the two chambers need a conference committee to iron out the differences and approve a final bill to send to President Bush.
Following the Senate vote, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist called for the Senate to appoint members to the conference committee — normally a noncontroversial process.
But Sen. Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate objected on behalf of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and the Democratic caucus, even though several Democrats voted for the bill.
Frist tried on two other occasions to have the Senate appoint a conference committee, but Senate Democrats objected.
The Senate will return from its recess in September, with only a short five weeks before it adjourns for the year. If the Senate doesn’t lift the Democratic block, the legislation will die.
National Right to Life legislative director, in a statement sent to LifeNews.com, accused Senate Democrats of trying to "run out the clock" on the session to prevent the pro-life bill from becoming law.
"The Senate Democratic leadership is doing the bidding of the abortion industry, obstructing parental notification legislation that is supported by over 80 percent of the public," Johnson explained.
Though the House has approved the measure on four separate occasions, Johnson said Democratic leaders blocked votes on the measure each time.
Should Frist plan a vote on the hold Democrats placed on the bill, he will need to obtain 60 votes to defeat it. Though the bill received a 65 to 34 vote, with the support of 14 Democrats, most of the Democratic lawmakers who voted for it are supporting the block on the bill.
Some 51 of the 55 Republicans supported the measure and getting to 60 votes will be difficult without some of the more moderate Democrats who occasionally vote pro-life. Just one Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, is considered a reliable pro-life vote.
With the need for more votes in mind, Johnson said National Right to Life would spend the rest of the recess asking its members to persuade their senators to vote to lift the block on the parental notification bill.
"A final version of the bill still can be approved and sent to the President, despite the continued objections of Harry Reid and other Democratic leaders, if Republican leaders press the issue, and if 60 senators support the move," Johnson explained.
Senate Democrats have said they have objected to the conference committee because they fear a provision in the Senate bill, to make sure a father who committed incest can’t take his daughter to another state for an abortion, won’t remain in the final version.
On the Senate floor, First promised the final bill would contain the amendment, but Reid again refused to allow the conference committee to meet.