The Republican-dominated 104th Congress adjourned last month as some conservative religious leaders hailed substantial progress on pro-life and profamily issues, while others warned of a moral crisis in the ranks of the U.S. government.

One of the last—and most contentious—topics this session was the failed attempt to override President Clinton's veto of a bill that would have banned "partial-birth" abortions. On September 26, the Senate voted 57 to 41 to overturn Clinton's veto—nine votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to override. A week earlier, the House of Representatives had approved override of the veto by a four-vote margin.

At the center of the debate was the controversial late-term procedure in which an abortionist punctures the base of a baby's skull with scissors, then removes the brain.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who led the effort to support the veto, said if the ban became law, the result would be "women dying, women suffering, women becoming infertile, maybe paralyzed, [and] surely gravely harmed."

But override supporters, including former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, denied that the procedure was ever morally or medically justified. Even some normally staunch abortion-rights congressional representatives have called the procedure akin to infanticide.

Prior to the vote, at the invitation of Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), 40 religious leaders who supported the ban gathered to pray for guidance for senators. The group also prayed that if the attempt to override the veto proved unsuccessful, God "would withhold judgment from this nation."

At a press conference in the U.S. Capitol, a coalition of conservative evangelical, Roman Catholic, and Jewish leaders warned that the vote had severe ...

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