Senate Sends Abortion Procedures Ban to Conference Cmte

The US Senate voted unanimously to send a bill banning certain abortion procedures to conference committee with the House, where it will surely pass without major changes. The bill has already passed both the Senate (S 3) and the House (HR 760), but the Senate version included an amendment sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) affirming Roe v. Wade. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) delayed the bill from going to conference committee in order to again reaffirm the Senate’s support for Roe. Her provision passed 93-0, but abortion opponents argue that in conference committee any language supporting abortion rights will be removed, according to The Source.

The Senate bill, like its House counterpart, bans so-called “partial-birth” abortion. The term “partial-birth” is an inaccurate and inflammatory term created by the anti-abortion movement, and it neither refers to any particular medical procedure nor receives recognition from the medical community, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Women’s Association, the American Nurses Association, and the American Public Health Association. Furthermore, the bill does not include an exception to protect the life of the woman. The US Supreme Court overturned a similar law in Stenberg v. Carhart in 2000. “The Supreme Court rejected this political scheme in the Carhart case, ruling that the government cannot ban the safest and most common methods of abortion, and that any law restricting abortion must contain an exception to protect a woman’s life and health,” said Nancy Northrup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) in a press statement.

A New York Times editorial sharply criticized the bill, writing that “the measure’s deceptively sweeping wording, would, in effect, overturn Roe by criminalizing many midterm abortions and by omitting any exception to protect the health of the woman.” CRR is preparing an immediate court challenge to the ban if it becomes law.

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The Source on Women's Issues in Congress 9/18/03; New York Times 9/18/03, 9/19/03; CRR statement 9/18/03; Feminist Majority

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