In response to which, I spent the weekend reviewing Fr. Peter West's compilation of Bush's pro-life record on FreeRepublic.com, as well as the news archives of Tennessee Right To Life and LifeNews.com.
Let's recap what Bush has done during his first term to support the pro-life movement, and see if we come to the same conclusions about President Bush's contributions to the pro-life movement:
There are three significant pieces of pro-life legislation that passed, thanks in part to the staunch support of the Bush Administration:
- The Born Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002 Legislative History. President Bush signed the act in August 2002. This is the first pro-life law passed since the Roe v. Wade decision that allowed unlimited abortions, requires medical personnel to provide babies who survive botched abortions attempts with normal medical care. According to Tenneessee Right to Life, "it came as a response to reports from a whistleblowing nurse that babies who had survived botched late-term abortion attempts were denied medical treatment and left to die."
[Also see: Pro-Life Law Protects Babies Who Survive Their Abortions, National Catholic Register].
- The Partial Birth Abortion Ban Legislative history. It was signed by President Bush in November 2003, and about which Priests For Life had this to say:"Today America has turned a corner in the war against abortion. For the first time since Roe vs. Wade, an abortion procedure has been banned. Rhetoric has yielded to reason, as the public has focused on the concrete violence of the partial-birth abortion procedure, rather than on abstract arguments about 'abortion rights.'
"Regarding pro-abortion efforts to stop this ban in court, my hope is that they fight with all their might, because that only serves to instruct the public that Roe vs. Wade is far worse than most people think.
According to National Right to Life, "The Bush Administration is currently defending the law against three separate legal challenges in three different federal district courts" -- including a lawsuit brought against the ban by Planned Parenthood.
- The Unborn Victims of Violence Act [Fetal Homicide] Legislative History President Bush signed the act in April, 2004. The act gives legal recognition to unborn children who are injured or die during an attack on a pregnant mother. It is worth noting that Senator Kerry vehemently opposed this act, on grounds that "because the law cannot simultaneously provide that a fetus is a human being and protect the right of the mother to choose to terminate her pregnancy."
Opposition to Funding Abortion and Forced Sterilization
As Nathan has already recognized, promptly after his election in January 2001, President Bush reinstated the Mexico City Policy, banning use of U.S. money for nongovernmental organizations that performed or promoted abortion overseas. Throughout the course of his first term he would continue to withold funding from various programs that promoted abortion or which they found forced abortion or sterilization in the interest of "population control":
- Bush Administration Withholds UNFPA Money [TN Right to Life 07-25-02].
- Bush Admin. Defunds AIDS Program Over Abortion Group's Participation [LifeNews.com 08-27-03].
- Bush Administration Expands Pro-Life Mexico City Policy [LifeNews.com 09-01-03].
- Bush Administration Denies UNFPA Funding Again [LifeNews.com 10-01-03].
- Bush Admin. Scraps Agency's Plans to Back Pro-Abortion Conference
According to Lifenews.com [Source], "Kerry said his first action as president will be to overturn Bush's Mexico City Policy." Given Kerry's 100% vote of approval by NARAL, One can assume what Kerry's response would be to additional opportunities to fund such programs.
Abstinence, Adoption and Crisis Pregnancy Centers
Throughout the course of his term, he has increased funding of abstinence and adoption programs (part of this funding is also directed to Crisis Pregnancy Centers):
- Bush Administration Awards Adoption Awareness Grants [TN Right to Life 10-27-01].
- President Bush Seeks Increased Abstinence Funding [TN Right to Life 02-02-02].
- Bush Administration Provides Record Funding for Abstinence Education [LifeNews.com 03-26-03].
- Federal and state dollars are subsidizing a boom in antiabortion 'crisis pregnancy centers' Mother Jones Jan/Feb 2003. [No conservative mag, that].
- Abstinence Organization Accomplished Great Goals in 2003 [LifeNews.com 01-08-04].
- President Bush Wants Abstinence Program Funding Tripled in 2005 [LifeNews.com 01-21-04].
- President Bush Criticized for Abstinence Funding Commitment April 5, 2004.
According to Lifenews.com: "Among the 28 most recent recipients of federal abstinence education grants are six crisis pregnancy centers that offer alternatives to abortion and some groups affiliated with the Catholic church." However, should Kerry be elected, such groups can certainly expect him to cut off such funding.
Opposition to Human Cloning and Embryonic Stem-Cell Research
In addition, President Bush is a vocal opponent of human-cloning, embroyonic stem-cell research -- proclaiming the humanity and worth of embroyos:
- Pro-Life Groups Applaud Bush Decision on Human Embryos [TN Right to Life - 11-05-02].
- President Bush Calls for Ban on Partial-Birth Abortion and Human Cloning [TN Right to Life - 01-30-03]
- President Bush Opposes Embryonic Stem Cell Research [LifeNews.com 06-14-04].
- Official Bush Administration statement in support of the Weldon-Stupak bill to ban all human cloning, and in opposition to substitute bill that would permit "human embryo farms" Feb 26, 2003. [PDF]
- Also See: "Human Cloning and Related Issues", NRL Legislative History.
Again, it must be noted that Senator Kerry supports a bill supporting what pro-life organizations are referring to as "clone and kill" procedures, permitting scientists to clone unborn children only to be killed to obtain their stem cells for use in research. He has also campaigned on behalf of embryonic stem-cell research and has criticized the Bush administration for its opposition. [Source].
So, in light of the above, what do pro-life organizations think about President Bush?
- President Bush Shows Strong Pro-Life Beliefs in Private Meetings [Lifenews.com 11-07-03]
- Pro-Life Groups Say President Bush's Record Strong, Deserves Re-Election [Lifenews.com 01-29-04].
- Presidential Record on Life [PDF] National Right to Life
Should this fail to convince Nathan and others, it has been my experience that you can judge how much progress a "pro-life" President is doing better by listening to the criticisms of his opponents than the praises of his friends. Here's a small sampling of what they have to say about the President and the Bush Administration:
- Abortion Advocates Ready to Defeat Bush, Support John Kerry [Lifenews.com Feb. 9, 2004]:"To my knowledge, there has never been an administration that has been more hostile ... to reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right, and has acted on that hostility," Gloria Steinem, a leading abortion advocate, said in a recent interview.
"In addition to their clear drive to criminalize abortion, there has been no opportunity of which I'm aware that they have not taken to restrict women's rights and to oppose reproductive freedom."
Meanwhile, Kate Michelman vouches for Kerry's pro-abortion background:
"Even on the most difficult issues, we've never had to worry about John Kerry's position," Michelman, president of NARAL, told the New York Times. ''We applaud Senator Kerry ... who pledges to do whatever it takes to protect our fundamental right to privacy and a woman's right to choose." Since 1995, Michelman's group has given Kerry a 100% rating for his voting record to defend abortion.
- "More than 30 years after Roe vs. Wade became the law of the land, it has never been more at risk than it is today," Kerry said. "We are going to have a change in leadership in this country to protect the right of choice." John Kerry Promotes Abortion at Rally With Pro-Abortion Leaders
- Pro-Abortion Political Groups Reunite to Defeat President Bush [Lifenews.com 03-08-04]
Back in April 2001, Kate Michelman, president of NARAL, was skeptical of the notion that abortion was a "priority" of the Bush Administration. "Bush does not appear to be zealously in pursuit of the overturn of Roe," she said. (For Bush, abortion is not a 'priority' USA Today April 20, 2001.
Three years later, responding to a live chat during the Democratic National Convention, it appears that she's changed her mind on the matter:
If President Bush is reelected, I believe that women could lose their right to choose. The Court is closely divided on a woman's right to have an abortion. President Bush will nominate only justices who do not believe that the Constitution protects a woman's right to privacy and the right to choose.
If he does have the chance to nominate Supreme Court Justices, Roe could be overruled, and immediately at least 17 states would make abortion a crime.