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Pro-life forces are divided and-disgruntled about how best to ban legal abortions.

Some groups are hailing a Constitutional amendment put forward by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah. Others bitterly oppose it; they prefer the ''human life bill'' offered by Sen. Jesse Helms (R) of North Carolina.

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The matter now rests in the Judiciary Committee, on which Hatch serves. The committee still has not picked between the two and has delayed consideration until early next month. Hatch has cast doubts on the constitutionality of the Helms bill, but many pro-lifers think the Hatch amendment is a sure loser. The amendment would require a two-thirds vote in both Houses; the bill needs only a majority.

The dispute is postponing the long-delayed floor debate over abortion, and the delay suits many lawmakers just fine. They have no taste for a divisive fight over abortion in an election year.

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