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Abortion Ban Reintroduced in Congress

Far-right Republicans renewed efforts to severely limit abortion rights yesterday with the introduction of the so-called “partial-birth” abortion ban in the House of Representatives. Expressing hopes that the bill will pass by late April, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) introduced the bill, which contains vague language and does not offer exceptions for the life or health of the mother. Reps. James Greenwood (R-PA) and Steny Hoyer (D-MD) introduced a countermeasure that would ban so-called “partial-birth” abortion except when medically necessary to save the life of a woman.

“Although proponents of the ban claim that only Ôlate-term’ abortions would be prohibited, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR)’ legal and medical experts affirm that the ban would outlaw use of the safest and most common pre-viability abortion procedure used after the first trimester of pregnancy – dilation and evacuation (D&E),” reads a CRR press release.

The phrase “partial-birth” abortion is an inaccurate and inflammatory term invented by the right wing. “Partial birth” abortion does not refer to any particular medical procedure and the term is not recognized in the medical community, according to the College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Abortion procedure bans such as these aim to outlaw or significantly chip away at a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal medical procedure.

A similar bill passed in 1996 and 1997 but was then vetoed by President Clinton both times. The House passed another version again last session, but the Senate did not even consider the measure. With Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress and a promise from President Bush to sign the bill, the bill is more likely to pass this year.

However, abortion rights advocates such as CRR and the National Abortion Federation have vowed to immediately launch lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the bill if it is passed. In 2000, the US Supreme Court overturned a similar Nebraska ban in Stenburg v. Carhart, citing the lack of a health exception.

Sources:

Associated Press 2/14/03; Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report 2/14/03; Center for Reproductive Rights 2/13/03; Feminist Daily News 1/6/03