The Senate is expected to vote later today on legislation that would ban most safe abortion procedures at any stage of pregnancy. The so-called “Partial-Birth” Abortion Ban bill (S. 3), sponsored by anti-abortion Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), would impose fines and prison sentences on physicians for performing certain abortion procedures. Bill opponents, incensed by this latest move from anti-abortion forces, argue that S. 3 excludes a health exception for the pregnant woman and the vague language threatens to stop doctors from performing various types of abortions, including safe early term procedures. Furthermore, “partial-birth” is not a legitimate medical term, but an inflammatory phrase intended to give a distorted picture of the procedure.
Proponents of the ban claim that only “late-term” abortions would be prohibited, but legal and medical experts at the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) affirm that the ban would outlaw use of the safest and most common pre-viability abortion procedure used during the second trimester of pregnancy – dilation and evacuation (D&E). Various professional medical associations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Women’s Association, the American Nurses and the American Public Health Association oppose the legislation.
A similar bill passed in 1996 and 1997 but was vetoed by President Clinton both times. The House passed another version again last session, but the Senate did not consider the measure. With Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress and a promise from President Bush to sign the bill, it is 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 should it pass. In 2000, the US Supreme Court overturned a similar Nebraska ban in Stenburg v. Carhart, citing the lack of a health exception.
TAKE ACTION URGENT: Oppose Bill Banning Safe Abortion