- The Washington Times - Monday, June 2, 2003

Two-hundred-and-eighteen votes are all it will take to end a terribly, tragically misguided procedure. Partial-birth abortions could be ended by a simple majority of representatives who realize that personhood should not be distinguished by just the span of just a few fingers.

Partial-birth procedures reduce human dignity to a matter of mere inches. During the operation, the attending doctor delivers a virtually viable baby halfway. If the baby is accidentally born during the procedure — if the baby is fully delivered and either draws a first breath or shows some other sign of life — then that baby is suddenly transformed into a full person, entitled to the full protection of the state.

Is it any wonder that a bill banning the procedure passed the Senate by a wide bipartisan margin (64-33) last March? The bill received the votes of both Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. The vast majority of Republicans supported the ban, and so did many Democrats, such as Sens. Patrick Leahy, Robert Byrd and Harry Reid. Three possible Democratic presidential nominees — Sens. John Edwards, John Kerry and Joseph Biden — ducked the vote entirely. Sen. Joseph Lieberman was the only Democratic presidential contender who voted to keep partial-birth abortions legal.

Mr. Lieberman would be hard-pressed to put forward either a medical or a moral reason to continue to allow doctors to perform such a ghastly procedure. As the Senate bill noted, “Rather than being an abortion procedure that is embraced by the medical community … partial-birth abortion remains a disfavored procedure that is not only unnecessary to preserve the health of the mother, but in fact poses serious risks.”

The House is expected to vote on the measure this week, and its bill, HR 760, is quite similar to that passed by the Senate. Like the Senate bill, it is narrowly drawn, prohibiting only overt acts that kill a partially delivered fetus. Like the Senate bill, it also contains an exception to save the life of the mother. The only significant difference is that the Senate bill contains a Sense of the Senate provision describing Roe vs. Wade as “an important constitutional right” and one that “should not be overturned.”

That can be fought out in conference, and should not serve as an excuse to delay passage of the ban on partial-birth abortions. All it will take is a simple majority —218 individuals in the House who see that there is almost never any reason to bring an individual to just a few inches from life — and then kill him.

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