EC, Health Exception Amendments to Abortion Procedures Ban Defeated
The Senate on Tuesday rejected an amendment introduced by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Harry Reid (D-NV) to provide $10 million over five years to improve awareness about emergency contraception (EC), make EC available to rape victims in emergency rooms across the country, and require insurance companies to cover prescription contraceptives. The amendment was proposal by pro-choice senators to mitigate the negative impact of the so-called "partial birth" abortion ban (S. 3), which is likely to pass in the Senate this week The amendment garnered 49 votes—11 short of the 60 needed for government spending beyond budget.
Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced an amendment today that would allow exemptions to the abortion procedures ban in cases where two physicians certify that a continuation of the pregnancy imposes risk to the woman’s health. That amendment failed by a vote of 60-38.
Abortion rights advocates argue that the S. 3 not only unconstitutionally excludes a health exception for the pregnant woman, but its vague language threatens to stop doctors from performing various types of abortions, including safe early term procedures. Groups such as the Center for Reproductive Rights and the National Abortion Federation have vowed to immediately launch lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the bill should it pass. In 2000, the US Supreme Court overturned a similar Nebraska ban in Stenburg v. Carhart, citing the lack of a health exception.
Media Resources: NY Times 3/12/03; Washington Post 3/12/03; Associated Press 3/12/03; Newsday 3/11/03; Feminist Daily News