The House of Representatives voted 295-136 on March 20 to ban the use of the D&X abortion method except in cases where it would save the life of the woman. The ban makes no exception for using the procedure when the woman's health is at stake. Doctors performing the procedure could face up to two years in prison and a fine for performing the procedure. The father of a fetus can sue a woman who has undergone the procedure if he is married to her.
The margin in the House is sufficient to override a presidential veto. Numbers in support of the ban have risen in part due to the recent claim by Ron Fitzsimmons, Executive Director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, that he lied about the number of D&X abortion performed annually. At a congressional hearing on the bill, NCAP President Renee Chilliun and other abortion rights leaders stood firmly against the bill and demonstrated the need for reproductive rights decisions to be made between women and their doctors, and not by lawmakers. Rep. Nita Lowney (D-NY) said, "This ban will put Congress directly in the operating room and impose the federal government in the doctor-patient relationship."
The Senate currently falls some seven votes short of a veto-proof vote and will likely wait until late April to vote on the measure. Last April, President Clinton vetoed the same identical measure because it made no exception for the woman's health. He has stated he will veto this bill as well.
Media Resources: The New York Times - March 21, 1997; The Washington Post - March 21, 1997