As pro-life supporters await an expected presidential veto of federal legislation for the second time banning partial-birth abortion (CT, Nov. 11, 1996, p. 94), pro-life lawmakers in 23 states have introduced bills to end the procedure they see as akin to infanticide.
Laws already have been enacted in a dozen of those states to ban partial-birth abortion, in which a baby's skull is collapsed and the brain removed.
President Clinton has vowed to veto legislation passed by the House by a veto-proof 295-to-136 margin March 20 and 64 to 36 in the Senate May 20. The Senate tally is three votes short of the number required to override a veto.
Pro-life forces are mustering a drive for those three votes, noting that the totals increased from 54 in 1995 and 58 last year as more information has been disseminated. In the latest vote, Robert Byrd, the longest serving Democrat in the Senate, and Minority Leader Tom Daschle switched sides.
Daschle introduced his own less restrictive alternative—the first Democratic-sponsored legislation to face a vote to restrict abortion since Roe v. Wade legalized it in 1973. It failed 64 to 36.
In February, abortion-rights lobbyist Ron Fitzsimmons admitted that he had "lied through [his] teeth" by calling partial-birth abortion rare and done only when the mother's health is endangered.
In May, the American Medical Association endorsed the Senate version introduced by Rick Santorum (R.-Penn.), saying partial-birth abortion is never medically necessary.
Clinton says the federal legislation, which includes an exclusion to save the mother's life, does not adequately protect the mother's health from being "grievously harmed."
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