Clinton Vetoes Partial-Birth Abortion Bill
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, April 10) -- President Bill Clinton today vetoed the so-called partial-birth abortion bill, sparking immediate protests from religious leaders and anti-abortion groups.
In a statement, Clinton said the procedure is a "potentially life-saving, certainly health-saving" measure for "a small but extremely vulnerable group of women and families in this country, just a few hundred a year."
"This is not about the pro-choice, pro-life debate," Clinton said. "This is not a bill that should have ever been injected into that."
Clinton vetoed the legislation, which cleared Congress last month, in a private ceremony at the Oval Office where he met with women who have had the procedure.
According to the White House, the women who attended underwent the abortions on the advice of their doctors, because their own health was in danger. The bill would have outlawed the procedure even in that situation, which aides said was Clinton's main reason for vetoing it.
Vikki Stella of Naperville, Ill., told reporters she had no other choice. "I didn't make the decision for my child to die. God made the decision for my child to die. I had to make the decision to take him off life support."
An override of Clinton's veto is unlikely. The bill did not clear the Senate by the two-thirds majority which would be necessary to reverse Clinton's decision.
In a letter to congressional leaders, the president had requested changes to permit exemptions "to preserve the life of the woman or avert serious health consequences to the woman." Without those changes, Clinton had warned the bill would be unconstitutional.
In the grisly procedure, a fetus is partially extracted from the womb, a catheter inserted in the skull and the brain removed before the fetus is taken out.
The National Abortion Federation estimates the technique is used in fewer than 500 of the 1.3 million abortions performed in the United States each year, although critics say that estimate is low. Forty-one states restrict late-term abortions.
Sen. Robert Dole, who supported the bill, said the technique "blurs the line between abortion and infanticide."
Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition told the Associated Press: "It will be very hard, if not impossible, for Bill Clinton to look Roman Catholic and evangelical voters in the eye and ask for their support in November."
Leaders of the anti-abortion group Concerned Women for America also lambasted the decision and called Clinton "an extremist."
"Unlike most Americans, Clinton supports abortion-on-demand for all nine months of pregnancy," the group said in a statement even before the veto was announced. "This act has isolated him from mainstream America and proves just how far left his policies are."
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