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Nadler Statement on President Bush's Signing of Ban on Abortion Procedure

Washington, DC, November 4, 2003
Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) today made the following statement in response to President George W. Bush's signing of the so-called partial birth abortion ban:

"For the first time since Roe v. Wade, a president has criminalized an abortion procedure, severely threatening the law that protects a woman's right to choose. The so-called partial birth abortion ban was never about prohibiting late-term abortions. It is a strategy put forth by right wing extremists to destroy completely the fundamental rights that women have gained over more than three decades, since Roe v. Wade was upheld in the Supreme Court.

"'Partial birth abortion' is a political term, not a medical one. This misleading and blatantly unconstitutional bill relies on the language of politics instead of the language of science. You won't find the term 'partial birth abortion' in a medical textbook. The authors of this legislation have used intentionally vague and inflammatory language to obscure the fact that this bill will outlaw many kinds of abortions in the second trimester -- a far cry from the drawings they use in their posters.

"Those who support this bill are not just hostile to a woman's right to choose, they are hostile to women's lives and health, their families and their futures. During the debate in the House-Senate Conference on the 'Partial Birth Abortion Act,' I proposed an amendment that would have included -- word for word -- the life and health exception to the ban that the Supreme Court has said the U.S. Constitution requires. Every Republican member of the Conference joined in voting down my amendment. Concern for the life of the woman, for her ability to have children, for her health, were dismissed as cynical ploys to gut the legislation. Their argument? Women lie, their doctors lie, and the courts don't care.

"Put simply, this bill is flawed and unconstitutional, as was demonstrated in 2000, when the Supreme Court struck down Nebraska's so-called 'partial birth abortion' ban because the bill burdened a woman's right to choose and it lacked the constitutionally-required exception to protect women's health. The bill just passed by the Congress is no different than the Nebraska bill. But this legal precedent didn't matter to the right-wing extremists in Congress who preferred to make a political point rather than follow the letter of the law. If there was ever any doubt about their intentions, their refusal to include a modest, non-binding statement -- adopted overwhelmingly by the Senate -- that simply reaffirmed Roe v. Wade, makes clear their true agenda: to overturn Roe. While the President has recently said that he does not intend to seek Roe's reversal, his actions speak louder than words. Appointments of litmus-tested ideologues to our courts, signing the first abortion ban in 30 years, and restricting access to abortion, demonstrate his real agenda. Don't read his lips. Watch what he does.

"Unless the President succeeds in his effort to pack the Supreme Court with like-minded ideologues, this politically-motivated assault on a woman's right to choose will ultimately be ruled unconstitutional, just as the Nebraska law on which it was modeled was. But make no mistake, with his signature today, President Bush has made it clear to every American that he will not stop until he has turned the clock back 30 years and makes abortion a crime in America. In the past, people have said that we were simply crying wolf. With the President's signature today, the wolf has arrived at the door. The stakes have never been higher, and the need for all of us to keep fighting has never been greater."

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