INTERNATIONAL

U.S. abortion bill raises hackles

Washington nov. 6. Arguing that the right to life cannot be "granted or denied by the Government because it does not come from the Government, it comes from the Creator of life," the U.S. President, George W Bush, signed into law the most far-reaching abortion restrictions in three decades.

Appeasing the political right wing and the religious groups and clearly antagonising the liberals and the abortion rights groups, Mr. Bush has set the stage for a major topic of discussion in next year's Presidential elections.

Minutes later, a federal judge in Nebraska issued a temporary ban calling the law "highly suspect, if not a per se violation of the constitution".

The ban was based on a lawsuit filed by four doctors who are also licensed in Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, New York, South Carolina and Virginia giving the initial impression that the impact could go well beyond one state.

The bill prohibits a procedure performed usually in the second or third tri-semester. The former President, Bill Clinton, had on two occasions vetoed similar bills. But Mr. Bush vowed that the executive branch would "vigorously defend" this law against any attempts to overturn it in the courts. And doctors performing the procedure now risk criminal prosecution.

Mr. Bush maintained that the medical procedure had been deemed in the profession itself as "unnecessary, not only cruel to the child, but harmful to the mother, and a violation of medical ethics".

Abortion rights supporters saw things differently and urged for keeping abortion legal. It is pointed out is that the law will have no effect on a 1973 Supreme Court ruling which gave the woman the right to abort a pregnancy.

"This bill marks a concerted effort to set back decades of progress in achieving reproductive freedom," said the President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Gloria Feldt. It filed a lawsuit in San Francisco. And Democratic Presidential candidates came out swinging against Mr. Bush with Senator Joseph Lieberman saying that the bill would allow "the political agenda of right-wing Republicans override the rights and health of American women".