Associated Press

May 13, 1997

Clinton To Consider Abortion Limits

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House said today that President Clinton could support a Democratic bill to ban late-term abortions except when a pregnancy poses a threat to the mother's life or the risk of ``grievous injury.''

The bill, a possible way to resolve a difficult issue for the president, is an alternative to a measure Clinton vetoed last year to ban some late-term abortions.

The Senate was to begin debate this week, possibly today, on Republican legislation to ban a controversial late-term abortion procedure. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., last week offered an alternative to stop all late-term abortions -- but with exceptions to protect the mother's life or protect her from ``grievous injury.''

``We are looking very carefully at Sen. Daschle's proposed language,'' Clinton spokesman Mike McCurry said today. ``We believe it's possible for the White House to support that language.''

Aides were completing a review of the provision and presenting it to the president today, McCurry said.

Meanwhile, in a letter delivered to Clinton, the Southern Baptist Convention criticized the Daschle proposal and urged the president, also a Baptist, to support the original bill.

``Senator Daschle's anticipated proposal is not a `restriction' or a `compromise' -- it is a transparent political sham,'' Tom Elliff, president of the religious organization, wrote in the letter.

McCurry later said the point of the Daschle proposal is to accommodate Clinton's views.

``Senator Daschle is trying to take into account the president's concerns,'' McCurry said. ``He's clearly trying to work for a majority and ultimately, if necessary, a veto-proof margin in the Senate.''

Clinton, a staunch supporter of abortion rights, last year vetoed a ban on the procedure although it had support from some Democrats and abortion-rights advocates made uneasy by graphic descriptions of the procedure. Clinton has said he would veto the ban again this year unless it provided an exception in cases where continuing the pregnancy threatened a woman's health.

Republicans made Clinton's veto an issue in the 1996 presidential campaign and Christian conservatives have continued to dog him on the matter.