"This bill is a pure sham," National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League president Kate Michelman told CNN. "Itís sponsored and promoted by those who want to take away a womanís right to choose." The rhetoric on the flip side of the issue is no less passionate. Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) explained to CNN, "This bill doesnít erode a womanís right to choose; it puts limits on criminalsí rights to destroy unborn children without the permission of the woman."
Ever since the passage of Roe v. Wade, abortion-rights activists have feared that abortion opponents, by chipping away at federal law, could eventually succeed in having abortions classified as murders. But this bill, says TIME Washington correspondent John Dickerson, is unlikely to create much of a dent. "I very much doubt that this bill will pass," he says, "and even if it did, it would probably be struck down by the Supreme Court, since it flies in the face of the courtís existing stand on reproductive rights." If defeat is almost guaranteed, whatís in this campaign for the Christian Coalition? A presence on the political map, says Dickerson. "Thereís a nagging fear in the coalition that they are being marginalized. This group hasnít backed a winning candidate or bill in a long time. Theyíve lost whatever power they once may have had in the Republican partyís primary process, and things are looking even worse now that George W. Bush has made it clear that heís not interested in being a vocal member of the anti-abortion movement." This latest attempt to steer themselves back into the center of the national political debate may turn out to be yet another wrong turn.