Partial Birth Abortion Ban

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The Senate has voted to ban the procedure critics call partial birth abortion.

The vote of 64-33 gives President Bush and the Republican majority in Congress one of their top legislative priorities.

The bill prohibits doctors from committing an “overt act” designed to kill a partially delivered fetus.

Opponents said they feared the measure was the opening salvo of a larger assault on abortion rights. The bill, however, does include language reaffirming support for the landmark ruling that gave women the right to end their pregnancies.

The legislation includes an exemption in cases in which the procedure is necessary to save the life of the mother.

Abortion rights supporters said the bill is unconstitutional because it doesn't provide an exemption in cases where the health of the mother is in jeopardy.

Abortion opponents have been pushing the bill for eight years. It was twice vetoed by President Clinton.

But with the House expected to follow the Senate's lead, and the president promising to sign the measure, they are close to victory.