President Clinton vetoed a bill to ban late-term partial-birth abortions Oct. 10, just as he did last year. Republicans in Congress vowed to work to override his veto.
Clinton acknowledged that the procedure, in which the unborn child is drawn through the birth canal feet-first, only to have its skull punctured and its brain suctioned out while it is inches from birth, “appears inhumane.”
But even though the American Medical Association backs the ban and has declared that it is never medically necessary, Clinton insisted that in “rare and tragic circumstances” it could be the best available option. The President scolded Congress for not including an exemption in the ban to protect the mother’s “health.” But critics say the courts have interpreted “health” so broadly as to include reasons such as stress or discomfort, and that such an exemption would render the ban meaningless.
“As a result of this congressional indifference to women’s health, I cannot in good conscience … sign this legislation,” Clinton insisted in his official veto notice to the House.
After Clinton vetoed a similar bill last year, an abortion advocate admitted that he had lied about partial-birth abortion, and acknowledged that the procedure was relatively common and was often used for elective abortions. Foes of the procedure hoped that admission would sway enough votes to see the procedure banned.
“There’s never a medical reason for this procedure,” noted Rep. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a doctor who has delivered more than 3,200 babies. “It’s a specious argument to say partial-birth abortion is required to save the life of a woman. It’s a convenience to abortionists.”
The House again passed the ban Oct. 8 by a vote of 296-132, more than enough to override Clinton’s veto. But in May the Senate fell three votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to override. Rep. Charles Canady (R-Fla.), chief sponsor of the bill in the House, promised to “work tirelessly to get the last few votes needed in the Senate.”
Canady added, “Now Bill Clinton will go down in history as the president whose veto had to be overridden in order to protect the innocent babies from a brutal, heinous death.”
Dr. James Dobson, president of Focus on the Family, said, “For the second time in his presidency, Bill Clinton callously ignores the silent screams of our nation’s children. President Clinton has the blood of innocent babies on his hands. He will go down in history not only as the Abortion President, but the Infanticide President.”
– E.P. News