Campaign to target U.S. Senators

WASHINGTON – A pro-life group planned to run television ads in Georgia May 10-11 asking supporters of a proposed ban on so-called “partial- birth” abortions to urge Sen. Max Cleland, D-Ga., to vote for the ban.

The Senate is expected to vote May 12-16 on legislation that would ban the controversial procedure, in which the unborn is delivered feet first, with the head remaining in the uterus and the skull is punctured, collapsed, and the reminder of the child then delivered.

“This process is a form of infanticide,” said Steve Forbes, a 1996 Republican presidential candidate and advisor to The Child Protection Fund, the non-profit organization behind the ad campaign.

“Most Americans, when they learn about it, consider it no less than infanticide.”

Senators

The group will spend about $1.1 million to run ads in seven states, targeting senators the group considers to be potential swing votes on the issue. Besides Georgia, the ads also will air in Florida, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska and Wisconsin.

The House passed the ban overwhelmingly in March, with enough votes to override an expected veto from President Clinton. But even the bill’s supporters concede that they need at least six more votes in the Senate to gain the two-thirds majority necessary to override a veto.

Cleland said he won’t be one of those votes unless the bill’s supporters agree to allow the procedure in cases where the mother’s health is threatened. The legislation passed by the House and due to be taken up by the Senate would only permit partial-birth abortions to save a mother’s life.

“I can’t support any restriction that does not consider the health of the mother,” he said.

But the bill’s supporters say the vast majority of partial-birth abortions are performed on health mothers carrying healthy babies.

Retired Adm. James Watkins, a former secretary of energy and chairman of The Child Protection Fund’s advisory board, cited a recent admission by a prominent abortion-rights advocate that he lied two years when he told Congress that the procedure was used only to save a woman’s life or abort malformed unborn children.

“The public has now learned that partial-birth abortions are not performed a few hundred times a year, but thousands of times,” Watkins said.

But pro-abortion advocates say the bill’s supporters are more interested in promoting their agenda of a total ban on abortions than in the partial-birth procedure.

“This is just a tactic to try to get to their ultimate goal,” said Jo Blum, vice-president for governmental relations for the National Abortion Reproductive Rights Action League.

Forbes said he sees the partial-birth abortion ban as a step on the road to an end to all abortions.

“To change the law, you must change the culture,” he said. “To change the culture, you change the law little by little … My ultimate goal is to make abortion disappear.”

Stevan Gibson, the group’s executive director, said the group won’t decide until late May in which Georgia television markets they will place the ads.