On Wednesday (4-10) President Clinton vetoed a bill that would have been the first to outlaw a form of abortion since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. The rarely-used procedure, technically referred to as “intact dilation and evacuation” is performed after 20 weeks of gestation when severe disorders of the fetus or complications with the woman’s health necessitate removal of the fetus to save the woman’s life, health or future fertility.
After vetoing the measure, which likely cannot be overridden in the Senate, Clinton held a ceremony in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in which five women tearfully spoke about their own experiences and the severe complications and fatal disorders that led them to undergo the procedure. At the ceremony, Clinton said the procedure was “potentially life-saving and certainly health- saving” for a “small but extremely vulnerable group of women and families in this country, just a few hundred a year.” Clinton had pressed lawmakers to include a provision in the bill to allow the procedure if a woman’s health was at risk, but the bill only allowed for instances when no other procedure would save the mother’s life. The bill would have subjected doctors performing the procedure for health reasons to fines, civil penalties, and prison terms of up to two years.