WASHINGTON (July 25, 2002) –- The House of Representatives voted 274 to 151 (July 24) to pass H.R. 4965, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, making it the fourth time the House has passed a bill banning partial-birth abortions. If the bill is passed by the Senate, the President has indicated he will sign it into law.
"Americans are appalled by partial-birth abortion, which they recognize as a cruel and barbaric procedure with no place in our society," said Cathleen Cleaver, Esq., spokesperson for the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. "We applaud the House action and urge the Senate leadership to allow a vote on this bill."
"Partial-birth abortion is performed at 20 weeks' gestational age and beyond, and neurological evidence has confirmed that it is a 'dreadfully painful' experience for the unborn child," Cleaver noted. "It also presents a threat to the health of women. It requires three days of forced dilation and can damage the cervix and increase the risk of miscarriage in the future. Women deserve better than this."
The bill approved today, H.R. 4965, addresses concerns cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in Stenberg v. Carhart when it struck down a Nebraska state ban in 2000: the need for a precise definition of partial-birth abortion, and the question of the procedure's impact on women's health. H.R. 4965 narrowly defines the procedure, and includes congressional findings indicating that the procedure is never medically necessary and may pose grave health threats to women.
"This is a cruel and dangerous procedure – abhorred by most Americans, condemned by the American Medical Association, twice banned by Congress. It can no longer be justified by any but the most radical proponents of abortion. The fate of this bill now lies with the Senate," Cleaver said.