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Congress rejects liberalization of abortion at military facilities

WASHINGTON (BP)–Both houses of Congress turned back attempts to repeal a law that prevents most abortions at United States military facilities.

The rejection of amendments to the Department of Defense authorization bill means abortions will continue to be banned at U.S. military hospitals and other facilities except those to save the life of the mother or when pregnancy has resulted from rape or incest.

The Senate defeated an amendment to liberalize the abortion policy in a 51-48 vote. Forty-six Republicans voted against the proposal. Five Democrats voted against the measure: Sens. John Breaux of Louisiana, Zell Miller of Georgia, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Harry Reid of Nevada. Forty-two Democrats and an independent voted for the amendment. The only GOP members to vote for it were Sens. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Ted Stevens of Alaska.

In the House of Representatives, the vote was 227-201 against the amendment. Thirty Democrats joined 197 Republicans in voting down the proposal. Twenty-seven GOP members joined 173 Democrats and an independent in voting for it.

Sen. Patty Murray, D.-Wash, was the chief amendment sponsor in the Senate, while Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D.-Calif., was the lead sponsor in the House.

Both votes occurred May 22, the day before Congress began its weeklong Memorial Day recess.

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