U.S. Senate passes pro-abortion bill
Led by Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy, the U.S. Senate has approved measures to curb Operation Rescue and other forms of pro-life activity.
U.S. pro-life leaders worry that the new measures will lead to similar attorney general-backed injunctions which Canadian pro-lifers have endured since 1988. The Canadian experience has been that these injunctions not only clamp down on active protests, such as Rescues, but also on passive protests such as picketing and counseling.
These injunctions, along with heavy fines and jail terms have successfully paralyzed pro-life activism at selected abortion centres in Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto. Presently, the Ontario NDP government is seeking to impose a province-wide injunction. British Columbia’s NDP government is expected to follow suit.
Expressing these fears to the Senate, North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms suggested that the legislation, “seeks to silence the entire pro-life movement.” Senator Storm Thurmond of South Carolina said the bill “raises the right to abortion above the Constitution,” referring particularly to the First Amendment’s right to assemble.
The recent shootings of two abortionists, one of which resulted in death, have garnered huge headlines south of the border and given pro-abortion forces the necessary momentum to push through the legislation.
Senator Kennedy claimed its passage was made necessary by painting an unlikely picture of U.S. pro-life activity. “Anti-abortion violence and blockades have been occurring across the nation as part of a coordinated, systematic campaign to intimidate abortion providers and patients, and state and local authorities have been unable to control it.”
California Senator Barbara Boxer, who helped Kennedy draft the legislation, contended that “once peaceful (pro-life) protests have escalated to acts of force and terror.”
The proposed measures, which were approved by a Senate vote of 69-30, are expected to pass through Congress with few changes. The President has said he “strongly supports” the bill and, unlike his predecessor George Bush, will not veto the legislation. According to a New York Times report, final passage will likely occur early next year.