Press Release
National Right to Life Committee
For immediate release:
Friday, October 10, 1997
For further information:
(202) 626-8820

Clinton Again Stands in the Way of Ban On Brutal Partial-Birth Abortion Procedure

For the second time, President Clinton has blocked legislation to ban the brutal practice of partial-birth abortion. Mr. Clinton's veto today of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act (HR 1122) came despite lopsided, bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate in favor of the bill, and despite enactment of similar bans by 15 states.

"President Clinton's veto means that each year thousands of living babies will be pulled feet- first from the womb and their heads punctured -- unless Congress overrides the veto," said Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC). The House gave final approval to the bill on October 8 by a margin of 296-132 -- 10 votes over the two-thirds majority required to override a veto. (The bill was supported by 79 Democrats and opposed by only eight Republicans.) The Senate approved the measure on May 20 by a vote of 64-36 -- three votes short of a two-thirds majority, but the largest margin yet. (Thirteen Democratic senators supported the bill; four Republican senators opposed it.)

The House and Senate are expected to vote next year on whether to override the veto.

Mr. Clinton and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) have demanded that partial-birth abortions and other abortions be allowed for "health" reasons, as defined by the abortionist, even after the point of "viability" -- even though the American Medical Association endorsed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act on May 19, calling partial-birth abortion "a procedure we all agree is not good medicine." The bill already contains an exception to allow a partial-birth abortion if "necessary to save the life of a mother whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, illness, or injury."

Most partial-birth abortions are performed in the 20-24-week range of pregnancy. In the past, White House officials have objected to the fact that the bill would ban partial-birth abortions performed before "viability." The term "viability" refers to the point at which a baby's lung development is sufficient to allow sustained life outside of the womb. In this sense, "viability" begins as early as 23 weeks. However, babies who are spontaneously expelled from 20-23 weeks are typically born alive, and are legally live births in every state -- even if their lung development is insufficient to allow sustained survival. Thus, the term "partial-birth" is legally and medically accurate. The term "partial-birth abortion" is not interchangeable with "intact dilation and evacuation," which refers to a class of abortion procedures that overlaps only partially with the abortions banned by the bill. (