May 18, 1997 in Nation/World

Top Democrat May Back Gop Anti-Abortion Bill

Associated Press

After his attempt at a compromise failed, Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle said he may support a Republican bill banning a certain late-term abortion procedure.

The prospect of Daschle’s support increased abortion opponents’ chances of overriding an expected veto by President Clinton. Sponsors of the ban say they have 62 votes in support, and 67 are needed to override.

The Senate is set to vote this week on a ban of what abortion opponents call “partial birth” abortions. Daschle’s bill would have banned late-term abortions but allowed exceptions if the woman faced death or “grievous injury.”

But after Daschle’s effort failed, the South Dakota Democrat told reporters he was considering voting for the stricter GOP bill, although he voted against an identical measure last year. Clinton vetoed that bill, saying it didn’t take women’s health needs into account.

“I think there are some very legitimate constitutional questions here,” Daschle said Friday. “And I think that those questions are probably going to be answered in the negative, that this piece of legislation is unconstitutional.

“In the meantime,” he added, “you could make a very strong argument that this abhorrent procedure needs to be stopped regardless of the circumstances. And if this will bring about some new direction by the court with regard to how we might effectively eliminate the procedure we might be helped by allowing the legislation to pass.”

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