Taking Stock of Life: What's Next for Pro-Life Legislation?
From: The Pro-Life Infonet <infonet@...>
Reply-To: Steven Ertelt <infonet@...>
Subject: Taking Stock of Life: What's Next for Pro-Life Legislation?
Source: United Press International; January 8, 2003
Taking Stock of Life: What's Next for Pro-Life Legislation?
By Paul Weyrich
[Pro-Life Infonet Note: Paul M. Weyrich is chairman and chief executive officer of the Free Congress Foundation.]
The 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion on demand is fast approaching. It is time to take stock about where the pro-life community now stands.
From the pro-life standpoint, President George W. Bush has arguably the best record on this issue for either a Republican or Democrat president since the unfortunate, deadly ruling in Roe vs. Wade was handed down on Jan. 22, 1973.
The president has supported the banning of all human cloning, essential to ensuring that each human life is respected as an individual person, not just a collection of parts to be harvested for medical research purposes.
He played an active role in urging passage of a comprehensive ban. Indeed, the legislation that provided a comprehensive ban on cloning was able to pass the House of Representatives, only to run afoul of the Senate Democrats' obstruction campaign led by then-Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.
Any infant born alive -- including those who survive an abortion procedure -- can no longer be viewed as a "choice." Under federal law they are now legally defined as a person thanks to Bush's willingness to sign the Born Alive Infants Protection Act.
The Bush administration went to bat for two other important pieces of pro-life legislation.
One was the Child Custody Protection Act, which safeguards the rights of parents to have a say in medical procedures performed on their children, rather than allowing someone's daughter to follow the advice of abortion and health clinic counselors and school nurses who often try to push abortion.
The Abortion Non-Discrimination Act also drew support from the administration. It would protect the right of healthcare professionals and organizations from having to engage in abortion procedures in order to receive federal funding in the same manner that teaching hospitals are already protected.
Then, there was the ruling issued by Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson permitting the states to use the State Children's Health Insurance Program to provide coverage for prenatal care and delivery to mothers and unborn children -- a move that was controversial.
By broadening the definition of child to include from the point of conception, Thompson ensured the expansion of prenatal care for low-income women.
In a blow to common sense Kate Michelman, president of the National Abortion Rights Action League, criticized the move and the Bush administration for demonstrating its "commitment to the strategy of undermining a woman's right to choose by ascribing legal rights to embryos."
The Department of Justice under Attorney General John Ashcroft has been supportive of the pro-life agenda too.
The Supreme Court in 2000 had struck down Nebraska's ban of partial-birth abortion in 2000, a decision that threatened similar laws in 30 states including Ohio. However, the Department of Justice filed a brief that stated Ohio's law should be upheld.
One reason mentioned by the Justice Department for its preparation of the Ohio brief: Bush's advocacy of a federal ban of the partial-birth abortion procedure.
Under Ashcroft's direction the Justice Department also struck down a 1998 ruling by Clinton administration Attorney General Janet Reno, that permitted the use of federally controlled drugs to be used to assist suicides in Oregon -- the only state in the nation that had permitted euthanasia.
Burke Balch, director of the National Right to Life Committee, commended the attorney general and the Bush administration for issuing this ruling "cutting off this outrageous misuse of drugs."
Bush also cut off funding for the U.N. Population Fund and, at the same time, after his inauguration, reaffirmed the Mexico City policy that had been established by President Ronald Reagan that President Bill Clinton rescinded as his first official act as president.
The Mexico City policy says that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortions either here or abroad or to actively promote abortion.
The administration has aggressively promoted adoption. Bush addressed participants at the annual March for Life this year through a phone call and issued a proclamation on the National Sanctity of Human Life Day.
Still, there is much more to be done. All late-term abortions, not just partial-birth abortions should be outlawed.
The Abortion Non-Discrimination Act and the Child Custody Protection Act did not see Senate action so they each will need to be passed by the House again, and passed by the Senate, to be signed into law by Bush. The same would apply for the cloning ban as well as the Unborn Victims of Violence Act.
There is also an amendment sponsored by Rep. David Vitter, R-La., that would erase eligibility to receive Title X family planning funding for any private agency that provides abortions, chemical or surgical, using non-federal funds.
The president's nominees for the federal judiciary also have to be considered. The Democrats spent the last year and a half using their majority status to stop qualified nominees like Texas state Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen from being seated on the court of appeals.
Daschle, now the Senate minority leader, has pointedly made it clear that his Democrats will filibuster any nominee in whom they can find any trace of pro-life sentiment.
To underscore the point, Daschle went to the trouble of getting 45 votes against Dennis Shedd, a nominee favored by retiring Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., for the federal Court of Appeals. It takes 41 votes to sustain a filibuster and Daschle wanted Bush to understand that he can stop the confirmation of any judge Daschle and the Democrats want to keep off the bench.
Senate Democrats should be careful in deciding what judicial nominees and what policies they attack. After all, the public has become increasingly apprehensive about unrestricted legal abortion in the 30 years since the Roe decision. Though the United States certainly cannot be described as an avowed "pro-life" or culturally conservative nation, candidates opposed to abortion made it across the finish line first in the November 2002 midterm congressional elections, allowing the GOP to seize control of the Senate.
If Daschle pushes too hard to stop pro-life policies and judges who are committed to restraint and unwilling to be NARAL surrogates on the bench, it could play to Bush's advantage in the upcoming 2004 election.
With that being the case, abortion opponents have every reason to hope that the administration will continue its impressive record of achievement in defense of human life.