Don’t get distracted

While most of the media, and the world, is talking about Iraq, and Saddam Hussein, don't get distracted from some very real and pressing issues at home (and no I'm not talking about the preposterous re-naming of french fries to freedom fries). The US Senate is voting this week on a bill to ban "partial-birth" abortions. The House has already approved the measure and President Bush is also expected to sign it.

Two very scary problems exist with the legislation as it now stands: first, it offers no exceptions if the mother's life is in danger ("ignoring the Supreme Court's insistence that such an exception is a constitutional requirement for any abortion regulation,") and its muddled wording, "would criminalize the use of the safest and most common pre-viability abortion method used after the first trimester." The Senate rejected an amendment that would have required prescription drug coverage of contraceptives and provisions to increase awareness of emergency contraceptive measures (like the "morning-after" pill). Sadly, it looks like the bill's got the votes to pass.

Clarification: it wasn't clear in some earlier articles I read about the proposed amendments regarding the "life of the mother" exception. The bill does contain language allowing the procedure if the life of the mother is at risk. The Sentate continues to reject amendments to allow an exception if the health of the mother is in danger. From today's New York Times article, Senate G.O.P. Holds Firm As Vote on Abortion Nears:

In the final vote before the overall measure was to be considered, the Senate defeated an amendment by Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, to allow an exception to the ban when the attending physician determines that the procedure is necessary to preserve the life or health of the woman. The proposed law already includes an exception to save the life of a pregnant woman. Advocates of the ban say that allowing for the health of the woman would badly weaken the measure since the health rationale could be broadly interpreted.

Related: The Village Voice on Bush's War on Women: Part I, Stealth Misogyny and Part II, The Myth of Progress.