November 2, 1995
Web posted at: 11:30 a.m. EST
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Wednesday marked the first time a body of Congress has voted to outlaw an abortion procedure since the Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that women have a right to abortion. The House overwhelmingly approved a bill that makes late-term abortions illegal. The bill now goes to the Senate.
The procedure, called "partial birth" by the bill's supporters and "intact D and E" by doctors, is performed rarely, perhaps only several hundred times a year in the United States, usually when the mother's life is at stake or the fetus has major abnormalities. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Charles Canady, R-Florida, said the procedure involves pulling the late-term fetus part way down the birth canal and inserting a syringe in the brain to end its life moments before it would have been born alive. In an interview on CNN Thursday morning, Canady called it a "heinous procedure" that should not be tolerated in the United States. (153K AIFF sound or 153K WAV sound)
The bill's opponents consider the legislation to be extreme in that it would make criminals out of doctors, and it does not allow consideration for the health of the mother. Also on CNN, Rep. Nita Lowey, D-New York, called the bill a "direct challenge" to Roe vs. Wade, the landmark abortion case. She challenged "anti-choice zealots" to seek an overturn of the law instead of attempting to "chip away" at it. Lowey said abortion opponents would find a majority of the American people support the right to choose abortion. (145K AIFF sound or 145K WAV sound)
The House voted 288-139 in favor of the bill. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle said there is some support for it in the Senate, and Canady said he was encouraged by that comment. But Lowey said she believes it will not pass the Senate, and if it did, she said, she is certain President Clinton would veto it. Canady said the House has enough votes to override.
The president has not stated his position on the legislation, but White House spokesman Mike McCurry said Clinton is "concerned that any legislative language protect both the life and health of the mother, particularly when the health might face a serious threat."
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