Skip to comments.GOP to take up partial-birth abortion issue
Posted on 06/12/2002 6:32:39 AM PDT by Jean S
House Republican leaders are gearing up to pass legislation to ban so-called partial-birth abortion this summer, a move that would please the GOPs conservative wing in a critical election year.
Its something they support very, very strongly and something theyve been waiting on, said Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.) chairman of the Values Action Team, a group of 30-35 socially conservative members that works closely with pro-family groups outside of Congress.
I think we should move it and send it to the Senate, he added.
Partial-birth abortion is a term used to describe an abortion performed after a fetus has entered the birth canal.
House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) said leaders are eyeing a July vote on a ban on partial-birth abortion, a term used by its foes to describe procedures used to perform abortions at or around the 16th week of pregnancy.
We have an awful lot of people who think its an abomination, he added.
While GOP lawmakers and aides stress that the measure earns support from both sides of the aisle, it is a significant issue to the partys base.
Weve been working the Hill leadership hard on the issue, said Ken Connor, president of the Family Research Council.
I think its important to have a vote before the fall elections on this issue, he added. Lets find out where people stand before the fall elections so people can make an informed decision as to who their representative should be.
One GOP aide said House Republicans chose to address partial-birth abortion this summer primarily because it is a key part of the partys platform and agenda, although the aide noted that the party is not naïve to the politics of the issue.
If the fact that its an election year picks us up a few more votes from the other side, then thats a good thing, the aide added. Its not every day that politics influences policy in a positive way.
A House GOP member suggested that the legislation is a smart move politically and would be a good wedge issue for the party.
Before any legislation hits the floor, the Judiciary Committee must craft a bill that complies with the 2000 Supreme Court decision Stenberg v. Carhart that declared a Nebraska statute banning partial-birth abortion unconstitutional.
By a 5-4 vote, the court objected to the Nebraska law because it did not provide an exemption for the health of the mother and because of the statutes vague wording.
Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), chairman of the Judiciary Committees Constitution Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the measure, expects to introduce legislation later this month.
Chabot said crafting the legislation has been a challenge after the Nebraska decision.
Thats been the holdup, he said. Were working on language that would comply with the Supreme Court decision that would still eliminate partial-birth abortion.
Ellen Malcolm, president of the EMILYs List, a fundraising organization for pro-choice women candidates, predicted Republicans will face a lot of legal hurdles overcoming Carhart.
Theres no secret that conservatives
are always trying to limit womens reproductive choices, and I wouldnt be surprised if they had another trick up their sleeves, Malcolm said. If they do, it will simply make the case to swing voters that Republicans are controlled by ideological extremists who are trying to take away womens reproductive rights.
However, the Family Research Councils Connor believes the Carhart ruling should motivate Congress to act.
I think its all the more the reason for the Congress to assert itself in this issue, he said, adding Congress needs to demonstrate how the court has hijacked the Constitution to press a radical social agenda.
Bringing up the abortion issue would ruffle some feathers among women and moderates within the House Republican Conference.
Its a touchy subject, said Rep. Constance Morella (R-Md.). I dont think we should make these decisions.
Morella, who is congressional Democrats number one target incumbent, said she isnt worried about the bills electoral implications.
I dont know that it would, she said, when asked if the topic would make it more difficult for her as a Republican. What it does is remind people how I did vote.
While House Republicans, who have passed a similar ban numerous times since the GOP took control of Congress in 1995, no longer face a veto threat like they did under President Clinton, Armey said he is not optimistic Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) will address the issue this year.
He has to respond to the left wing of his party, Armey said.
Oh, but we all know it doesn't have a snowball's chance in the Senate. So, timing doesn't really matter.
But with Dashle, et al, running the Senate, it'll never come up for a vote.
Why is it that the most ardent supporters of abortion are always women who have no chance in he!! of ever getting touched by a man, let alone pregnant? Blechhh!!