John Kerry's Abortion Ban

The campaign confirms that Kerry supports a measure that could ban thousands of abortions

Sen. John Kerry supports banning most abortions of fetuses post-"viability," the campaign confirmed Thursday.

Roughly 10,000 abortions occur each year in the third trimester, after fetuses are commonly thought to be viable, so this approach could curtail a greater number of late term abortions than the "partial birth abortion" ban often discussed by President Bush.

In 1997, when Congress was first considering whether to prohibit partial birth abortion, Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota offered a compromise amendment that banned abortion for any fetuses that could be considered viable. [

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]. Kerry voted for the amendment, which was defeated by an alliance of Republicans and liberal Democrats. [

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for roll call.]

Kerry has never mentioned his support of such a ban in any major speeches, debates or campaign documents and usually emphasizes a woman's "right to choose." However, in response to questions from Beliefnet concerning the 1997 vote, campaign spokesman Jim Chon, emailed Thursday, "John Kerry stands by his vote."


The Daschle amendment stated: "It shall be unlawful for a physician to abort a viable fetus unless the physician certifies that the continuation of the pregnancy would threaten the mother's life or risk grievous injury to her physical health."

At the time Daschle proposed his amendment, also called the "comprehensive abortion ban act of 1997," the American Civil Liberties Union attacked it as "unconstitutionally narrow" because it didn't allow enough health-of-the-mother exceptions. The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League president Kate Michelman said Daschle's amendment "goes too far" in restricting abortion.

Republicans opposed the Daschle amendment too, arguing that it gave too much authority to doctors to determine "viability."

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Steven Waldman
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