In a vote of 286-129, the House of Representatives voted Thursday (3-28) to approve a controversial bill that would outlaw a rare form of late-term abortion used to save the life, health, or future fertility of the woman carrying the fetus. The vote fell primarily along party lines with 72 Democrats joining 214 Republicans is supporting the measure which has enough votes in the House to override an expected presidential veto. The number of votes in the Senate is not likely to meet the two-thirds required to override the veto.
President Clinton has said he will veto the measure because the House version makes no exception to take into account neither the life nor the health of the woman; the Senate version allows for rare exceptions. The bill would lead to fines up to $250,000 and two years in prison for doctors who perform the procedure, and it provides only narrow exceptions for not applying the penalties if the procedure is “necessary to save the life of a mother whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, illness or injury.” Opponents to the bill say that the pregnancy itself, not generally considered a disorder, illness or injury, could also endanger the life of the woman. Opponents also say the ban is unconstitutional and would chip away at reproductive rights established in Roe v. Wade.