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Political Notes

Thu., Feb. 29, 1996

Clinton says no to abortion ban


President Clinton said on Wednesday he would not accept a bill banning a controversial late-term abortion procedure unless it makes exceptions in cases where a woman’s health is at risk.

The bill’s supporters, including Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., said they were disappointed with Clinton’s stand and would move ahead with the measure. That meant a Clinton veto was certain.

The bill has become a battleground between anti-abortion groups, which call the so-called partial birth procedure grisly, and pro-choice groups, which say that in some cases it may be the only safe option.

Clinton said he had “studied and prayed about this issue, and about the families who must face this awful choice, for many months.”

He said the rarely used procedure is “very disturbing.” But the President said he could support the ban only if it had an exception when the doctor considered the method was “necessary to preserve the life of the woman or avert serious health consequences to the woman.”

Dole said the exception was too vague.

A Senate version of the bill would have allowed the exception only under life-saving circumstances.

A House version had no exceptions.

Alaskans drill for support


Alaska’s congressional delegation emerged upbeat from a 30-minute meeting with President Clinton Wednesday, saying they thought they had made progress in persuading him to support oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“It was a very worthwhile meeting and I’m optimistic,” said Sen. Frank Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

But the White House said later that while the president listened to the all-Republican delegation, Clinton has not modified his longtime opposition to opening the refuge’s 1.5 million-acre coastal plain to oil development.

Balancing act continues


Speaker Newt Gingrich said again Wednesday, as he did Tuesday, that he believes Congress and the White House could soon agree on a plan to balance the federal budget. But if such a plan is brewing, there was scant evidence of it, either on Capitol Hill or in the White House.

To the contrary, the two sides seemed at times Wednesday, to be moving in opposite directions, much as they did this winter when disputes over federal spending priorities shut down much of the government for three straight weeks.

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