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Elders, Terry debate right-to-life issues

Elders, Terry
Jocelyn Elders, left, and Randall Terry

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(CNN) -- Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's order to reinsert Terri Schiavo's feeding tube came on the same day that Congress passed legislation to outlaw certain late-term abortions. Tuesday's developments are considered victories for self-described right-to-life groups.

What does this mean for the future? CNN anchor Anderson Cooper was joined by former Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders via satellite from Little Rock, Arkansas, on Wednesday to debate the issue. Also joining Cooper via satellite from Jacksonville, Florida, was Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry.

COOPER: Mr. Terry, let me start off with you. Two apparent victories [occurred] back-to-back. Where does the self-described right-to-life movement go from here? What is the next move?

TERRY: Well, certainly it was a great victory for Terri Schiavo. She is now not being starved to death. And, for me, the exciting thing was that, for once, an executive and a legislative body stood up to judicial tyranny.

You know how many cases are decided not by legislators, not by the voters, not by self-government, but by judicial decree. So we were elated for Terri and for the bigger picture.

On the partial-birth abortion side, I have to tell you, Anderson, it's a political gold mine in the sense of, we can talk about this, we can debate abortion. But it may not save one child's life. For me, it's the president and the pro life members of Congress [who] really want to do something, what they need to do is not just outlaw one type of abortion, but outlaw all abortion from 20 weeks onward so that any baby that is viable that can survive outside the womb, that they cannot be killed by this procedure or any procedure.

COOPER: Mr. Terry [you're] saying this may not do anything, because it may get overturned later on.

Let's bring in Dr. Elders. Dr. Elders, what does this mean for the self-described pro-choice movement? Did they drop the ball on this?

ELDERS: Well, we're certainly disappointed and we are sorry that our government is choosing be involved in decisions that should be between a woman, her doctor, or significant other and her God. And I did not feel that the government should be involved in making those kinds of decisions.

COOPER: But what is going on with the pro-choice movement, as they call themselves? I mean, where are those leaders? You know, do you see this as a failure of the movement?

ELDERS: You know, this was passed before. This was not the first time that this piece of legislation was passed. It was vetoed by President Clinton. They have been working on this partial-birth abortion thing for ages. This group does absolutely nothing to save normal, healthy children.

COOPER: Mr. Terry go ahead.

TERRY: Dr. Elders, that's just not true. The reason the pro-abortion leaders can't rally around this is because it's indefensible. We're approaching nearly 50 million children that have been murdered in the American holocaust of abortion. This procedure is so barbaric, where most of the baby is born and at the last second when the head is in the birth canal, the doctor ruptures the skull and sucks out the brain.

ELDERS: I will interrupt you, because you know that's not true.

TERRY: If that had happened...

ELDERS: You know that's not true.

COOPER: Let Dr. Elders respond. Go ahead.

ELDERS: You know that is not true. Most of the partial-birth abortions are done between 20 and 24 weeks. And they are not...

TERRY: These are viable children, that's the point.

ELDERS: They are not...

TERRY: If they brought that baby out at that same gestation it would live a normal, happy life.

ELDERS: I doubt that.

COOPER: Let me try to focus this discussion a little bit, if I can. Mr. Terry, where do other self-described right-to-life movement organizers go from here. Is the battle state to state? Is it in the judicial branches? Where do you go?

TERRY: It's several things, Anderson. Number one, it's state by state with parental notification laws, with 24-hour waiting periods. It's seeing that there are state legislators that are pro-life, solidly pro-life so when Roe vs. Wade is overturned we can immediately make abortion illegal.

ELDERS:That's what it's all about.

TERRY:Of course we want to make child-killing illegal. You know that.

ELDERS: It's not about partial-birth abortions. It's about overturning Roe vs. Wade.

TERRY: Absolutely.

ELDERS: And it's really about power. All women that are educated and have money can get abortions any time they want. It's only the young, the poor and the uneducated that you're destroying.

TERRY: So you want to kill the children of the poor, Dr. Elders, is that what you are saying? Kill off the poor.

ELDERS: I'm saying this partial-birth abortion, these laws that you are making against abortions, those are the only people [who] are hurt.

COOPER: We're going to have to leave it right there.

ELDERS: And you know that.

COOPER: Randall Terry, appreciate you joining us. And Dr. Jocelyn Elders thank you as well.


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