In a 5-to-4 decision announ-ced Wednesday, the high court upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. The move comes nearly seven years after the Supreme Court declared a similar Nebraska law unconstitutional because it lacked an exception to protect a woman’s health.
On Larry King Live tonight, ex-pres Bill Clinton offered some excellent observations on the issue and recalled his vetoing the same bill for good reasons. The following is verbatim from the interview transcript:
B. CLINTON: Well, you know, I vetoed that bill twice. And I think it’s a great victory for the political strategy of the anti- abortion movement. But I do not believe it’s a pro-life decision.
B. CLINTON: I do not. Not a pro-life decision, because, let me remind you, when I vetoed that bill, I had standing in the White House with me an Evangelical Christian who had had the procedure who was pro-life, an Orthodox Jew who had had the provision who was pro-life, and another Christian who had been pro-choice.
All three women and their husbands and physicians — but two of the three who had had the provision were pro-life. They did it because their children were — I mean, their unborn children were severely hydrocephalic. They were certain to die either before, during or immediately after childbirth. And the doctors told them that if they did not reduce the size of these babies’ heads — which were swollen very high, very large — that delivering them, even by cesarean section, might so damage the women that they might not be able to bear other children.
And they told me that they would otherwise never want to use this procedure, that no one would want to do this unless there was some medical necessity for it.
But it sounded gruesome. You could use — you can label it and no one ever knew the facts. It was a perfect political strategy.
Who can be for partial-birth abortion?
It’s a great line.
But the truth is, the doctors who did it and the women who agreed to have it — as I said, I talked to two of them who were pro-life, anti-abortion. They did it because they thought it was a pro-life position. They thought it was the only way they could go on and have further children.
KING: So you don’t see “Roe v. Wade” in danger?
B. CLINTON: No, I do think it’s in danger. But all I’m saying is I don’t believe that this was a victory for the pro-life forces. I think — you know, I think abortion is a difficult decision. I agree with the “Roe v. Wade” decision because I don’t think we ought to criminalize this. I think it’s somewhat hypocritical, frankly, to make the doctors criminals and leave the mothers off.
KING: It’s two parts to the crime.
B. CLINTON: You can’t go around saying, well, this is killing and then you have an essential accomplice here, the mother. The mother can’t do this — I mean, the doc can’t do it without the mother. But we’re not going to charge them, we’re only going to charge the doctor.
So they know how hard this is. This is — but as a political strategy for the anti-abortion movement, it’s a great triumph. And they do — they have put “Roe vote. Wade” at risk. I just don’t agree with the decision. And I don’t think it’s pro-life.
I think that the — I vetoed those bills because I thought that if they passed it would make it harder for women with problem pregnancies to have other children.
The Fundies continue to impose their will on the rest of us, moving us closer and closer to a theocracy. All we can hope is that whoever is elected our next president will insist on following the intent of our Constitutional Democracy.