In a day of shame for the United States, Congress passed a bill that would make it a felony for peaceful protesters to hold a sit-in in front of an abortion clinic. These nonviolent protesters would face long prison terms, as well as crippling fines. The bill will reach President Clinton's desk in early 1994.

Much has been said about how this bill harms civil liberties and free speech in the United States, but it could be equally devastating to human rights abroad.After all, if the United States imposes long prison terms on peaceful, nonviolent protesters, how can we complain when China or Cuba does the same thing? When Amnesty International tries to free one of these prisoners, the offending government could say that "the United States is doing it, too."

Clinton recently met with the leaders of China and criticized them for imprisoning the protesters from Tiananmen Square. If he now signs this bill, he will be turning his back on those same protesters. By doing the right thing and vetoing this bill, Clinton would tell the world that the United States is serious about human rights everywhere.

David Anderson

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