The Abortion Veto

I DISAGREE WITH your criticism of President Clinton, both in Jim Wallis' "Hearts & Minds" column and in Julie Polter's commentary "Outrage Over the Abortion Veto" (July-August 1996). You argue that President Clinton was wrong to veto a bill prohibiting the use of the medical procedure "intact dilation and extraction." I believe the contrary: Clinton showed considerable political courage in his veto and deserves support!

This medical procedure has been demonized as "partial birth abortion," with enormous publicity being given to the "murder" of the fetus (I was shocked that Polter's commentary states, "this procedure could fairly be called infanticide.") Little publicity was given to the very infrequent use of this procedure or to the fact that it is the procedure of choice and the safest procedure for a pregnant woman under certain medical conditions.

Polter also says that Clinton's "move was considered politically stupid." I agree and am glad that he took the risk of listening to the medical profession rather than the eight Catholic bishops, evangelical Christians, and others who condemned the veto. It's true that the proposed ban would have permitted the use of the procedure under tightly regulated circumstances when the mother's life was in danger. The simple truth, however, as pointed out by medical specialists, is that surgeons will not willingly submit themselves to a bureaucratic procedure that carries possibilities of political and legal entanglement, even criminal penalties. The ban would have ensured that some women would receive inferior treatment with increased risks to their health.

Bert Golding
Houston, Texas

 

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