Outrage Over the Abortion Veto

When President Clinton vetoed a bill this spring that would have banned a specific method of late-term abortion, many people were outraged. People committed to the sanctity of life viewed the move as obscene and stupid.

Those outraged by the veto also included many people who otherwise believe women should have the legal right to choose an abortion. The bill had passed both houses of Congress because abortion opponents received the support of some Democrats and Republicans who have usually stood for abortion rights. While a broad range of Americans support some restrictions on abortion, the veto seemed to be symbolic of Clinton’s reluctance to support any restrictions. Some assume that it is proof that Clinton and the Democratic Party have ceded their position on abortion to the most extreme pro-choice factions.

The procedure in question is called intact dilation and extraction, also referred to as partial birth abortion because the fetus is removed feet first through the birth canal, sometimes requiring that the skull be crushed and the brain suctioned out. The disturbing nature of the technique is intensified by the fact that it can be used past the point that an infant would be viable outside its mother’s body. Even some with a pro-choice stand acknowledge that this procedure could fairly be called infanticide.

Regardless of one’s position on abortion, one cannot escape the clarity that it is indeed a human life destroyed in this procedure. From the perspective of a consistent life ethic, Clinton’s veto cannot be condoned (the proposed ban allowed the use of the procedure in cases where the mother’s life is in danger).

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Sojourners Magazine July-August 1996
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