Canton Repository

January 23, 2003

Senators expecting ban of late-term abortions 

Copley Washington correspondent 

WASHINGTON — The nation will get a ban on partial-birth abortions signed into law this year, Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine predicted Wednesday as tens of thousands of abortion opponents marched in Washington.

DeWine said the Republican takeover of the Senate in November paves the way for Congress to pass and President Bush to sign a prohibition of what opponents call partial-birth abortions.

“We are very fortunate today we have a president ... who when we send him a partial-birth abortion ban, as we will this year, will sign” it, he said.

DeWine and Sen. George Voinovich, the state’s other senator, told more than 1,200 abortion opponents from Ohio that banning the late-term procedure is among their top priorities. Both noted the impressive turnout of young people at the event. More than half appeared to be high-school age or younger.

Republican control of the legislative and executive branches of government also could lead to the passage of other restrictions on abortion, they told a breakfast sponsored by Ohio Right to Life. Both senators are Republicans.

Proponents of a ban on partial-birth abortions say it would make illegal those procedures in which a fetus or unborn child is partially delivered before being killed.

Abortion-rights advocates contend that the proposed bans are broadly written and would prevent some abortions during the middle stages of pregnancy as well as the later stages.

The gathering of activists on both sides of the issue Wednesday took on added significance because it marked the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision, which ruled that abortion is a constitutional right.

The fact that Republicans now control both houses of Congress as well as the White House increases the chances that anti-abortion legislation will become law.

Voinovich told the crowd that the GOP takeover of the Senate last year was “miraculous. Somehow the Holy Spirit working in this country gave us back a majority in the United States Senate,” he said to applause.

Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, who sponsored the ban on partial-birth abortion that passed the House last year, said there’s a “realistic chance” it will become law this year.

Supporters of a ban thought they had the votes to get it through the Senate last year but ran afoul of leading Senate Democrats who then controlled the chamber. The bill never came to a vote on the floor.

Now, however, with a 51-49 majority in the Senate, Republicans have more control over the flow of legislation.

DeWine, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he received assurance from the committee chairman, Orrin Hatch of Utah, the committee will take up the ban in February.

Defenders of abortion rights are also bracing for further restrictions on abortion.

Kate Michelman, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said last week she expects Congress and the president to enact a ban on partial-birth abortion and other restrictions.

“Obviously, they have the votes,” she said. “We are going to do everything we can with our friends to stop these measures. But, frankly, we don’t have the votes, and I think we have to choose our battles carefully.”

Anti-abortion Ohioans at the breakfast expressed confidence their movement is making progress.

DeeDee Wyman, a 15-year-old from Massillon, had qualms about traveling to Washington with more than 100 other abortion activists from Stark County, she said.

But she came because abortion in her view is wrong. “Obviously there is a living thing in there,” in the womb, she said.

Paul Nieschwitz of Canton, also attending the breakfast for the first time, said every restriction is a step in the right direction.

“We can probably make some great strides toward getting Roe vs. Wade reversed,” he said.