As he has in every Congress since he was first elected in 1974, Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, has introduced a proposed Constitutional amendment to ban abortions except to save the life of the mother.

Garn's "Human Life Amendment" was introduced amid debate in the Utah Legislature about abortion, and as anti-abortion activists marched in Washington Tuesday to protest the 18th anniversary of the pro-abortion Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. (See stories, A1.)"We join together for this anniversary to both censure the court's error . . . and to mourn the deaths of millions of unborn children," says a statement Garn submitted with his amendment.

His proposed amendment reads, "No unborn person shall be deprived of life by any person: Provided, however, that nothing in this article shall prohibit a law permitting only those medical procedures required to prevent the death of the mother."

While Garn's amendment has been before Congress for 16 years, it has never proceeded close to passage. Two-thirds of both houses would have to pass it, and it would have to be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures.

But Garn, a father of seven children, said, "It is my concern for the wholesale destruction of human life that leads me to once again . . . introduce this amendment."

Garn added, "In my readings of the Constitution, I have never found an all-encompassing right to abortion. That the Supreme Court erred in its holding in 1973 is unquestionable.

"The court assumed for itself a legislative role and in effect wrote a statute governing abortions for the entire country, a statute more permissive than those enacted by any of the 50 states."

Garn also said medical advances are changing the way that many regard life in the womb.

"Surgery has been successfully performed on fetuses to correct medical problems before birth. Premature babies are being saved at younger ages. Doctors and others are acknowledging the very real possibility that fetuses endure terrible pain as a result of abortion techniques," he said.

"How can we as civilized people have such blatant disregard for the value of human life by allowing abortions to violently end the life of fetuses at up to 28 weeks' gestation, yet if a baby is born prematurely - even as early as 24 weeks - medical professionals and families rally around the child . . . praying for a miracle?"

Garn concluded, "We don't protect the fetus, but we make every effort possible to save babies at the moment of birth. A newborn is no less dependent on us for its survival than is a fetus."