WASHINGTON, June 5, 2003 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The U.S. House of Representatives, by a two-thirds vote (282-139), yesterday joined the Senate in approving a bill to ban partial-birth abortions.
The bill (H.R. 760) legally defines a partial-birth abortion as any abortion in which the baby is delivered alive until “in the case of breech presentation, any part of the fetal trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother,” or if the baby is delivered head first, “the entire fetal head is outside the body of the mother,” before being killed. H.R. 760 would allow the method if it was ever necessary to save a mother’s life. During the debate, opponents of the ban argued that the bill violates two U.S. Supreme Court rulings—Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion on demand, and Stenberg v. Carhart, a 2000 decision in which five justices held that Roe v. Wade covers even partial-birth abortions. Immediately after the bill’s passage, President Bush issued the following statement: “I applaud the House for passing legislation banning partial-birth abortions. Passage of this important legislation is a shared priority that will help build a culture of life in America. I urge Congress to quickly resolve any differences and send me the final bill as soon as possible so that I can sign it into law.” On March 13, when the U.S. Senate approved (64-33) its version of the bill, it attached the Harkin Amendment, an endorsement of Roe v. Wade, and pro-life forces want to see that amendment removed in an upcoming House-Senate conference committee. After the conference committee produces a final version of the bill, it must be approved by both houses before it is sent to President Bush for his signature. These final steps in the legislative process could take some weeks. See the bill online at: https://www.nrlc.org/abortion/pba/PBABA%20HR%20760.pdf