Partial Birth Abortion Ban Gets Another Chance

By Ben Anderson | July 7, 2008 | 8:24 PM EDT

( - The US Senate is expected to vote either later Thursday or Friday on another partial birth abortion bill, but there are a number of key senators who are identified by sources as swing voters but have not yet indicated which way they will vote on the legislation.

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) introduced the bill to ban partial birth abortions, the procedure in which all but the head of an infant is delivered before the abortionist ends its life and then extracts the remains from the mother.

President Bill Clinton has previously vetoed similar legislation on the grounds that protecting the mother's life was not a provision in the legislation, also a contention of many opponents. Santorum, however, has now added a provision in the latest version which he said satisfies the concern for the life and safety of the mother.

Santorum's bill calls for an unspecified fine an up to two years of prison for any physician who "knowingly performs a partial-birth abortion and thereby kills a human fetus." But in a concession to prior opponents concerned about the safety of the mother, Santorum has excluded those procedures conducted "to save the life of a mother whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, illness, or injury."

Santorum's spokesman Robert Traynham indicated the Senator has cornered opponents with their own arguments against the legislation.

"The facts are clearly on the side that partial birth abortions are never medically necessary, that the procedure is actually a rogue procedure," Traynham said. "It's never taught in medical school and that the American Medical Association, former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and thousands of ob-gyns across the country have all said that it's never a medical necessity."

On the chances that the current partial birth abortion ban will pass the Senate, Traynham indicated there are so-called swing votes among both Democrat and Republican Senators. Santorum is "cautiously optimistic that his colleagues on both sides of the isle...will listen to the facts and not partisan rhetoric," Traynham said.

Sources have told that Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have not yet declared publicly whether they will vote for the partial birth abortion ban. On the Democrat side, Sens. John Edwards (D-NC) and Max Cleland (D-GA) are still undecided, according to Senate sources.

Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), previously considered undecided have now chosen to vote against the ban, has learned.

Asked about the chances of getting the legislation through the House, Straynham said Santorum was again "cautiously optimistic," but the Senate remains the primary concern where it has always been "an uphill battle."