In a paradoxical pair of votes, the Senate yesterday approved a bill to restrict late-term abortion and passed a referendum endorsing the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision as “an important constitutional right.”
The restriction on late-term abortion would make it a felony for a physician to employ the procedure unless it is “necessary to save the life of a mother whose life is endangered by physical disorder, illness or injury.” President Clinton is expected to veto the bill.
Pro-choice advocates argue that the issue of late-term (so called “partial birth”) abortion is a fabrication by anti-choice Republicans, “a smoke screen to mask an assault on abortion rights of all kinds.” The procedure is in reality a rare one, in most cases done only when a live birth will cause extreme suffering either to the fetus or the mother.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) called the referendum on Roe v. Wade in order to reveal Republicans’ anti-choice views. In fact, 45 of 54 Republican Senators voted not to endorse Roe v. Wade, despite the fact that the Supreme Court decision has extremely widespread public support.