June 16, 1997

New Jersey Senate bans partial-birth abortions

TRENTON, N.J. (Reuter) - New Jersey's Senate approved a bill banning so-called partial birth abortions Monday, setting the stage for a showdown between the Republicans who control the legislature and Gov. Christie Whitman.

The only exception in the bill is allowing the procedure to save the mother's life. Whitman, also a Republican, has said she will veto any bill that does not include the mother's health as an exception.

The bill must return to the state Assembly, the lower house, for approval of Senate amendments. That vote is likely to occur Thursday.

The debate resembles the struggle between congressional Republicans and Democrat President Clinton, an abortion rights advocate. Clinton vetoed a ban that did not allow exceptions for the mother's health, and it held up.

New Jersey's governor can set terms on a veto. Whitman is regarded as likely to veto the ban conditional upon recognizing the mother's health as an exception.

The bill passed the Assembly with enough votes to override a veto, but it would need 27 votes in the Senate, where it passed by a 25-13 vote. One senator did not vote. ``We'll be working overtime finding that 27th vote,'' said Marie Tasy of the New Jersey Right to Life Committee.

Some of the votes came from Democrats.

If the veto is overridden, New Jersey would join 10 states that have already banned the abortion procedure, in which labor is induced and the fetus is killed in the birth canal.