regulation protecting health-care providers’ conscience rights was issued Dec.
18 by the Department of Health and Human Services (see Briefs, page 2).
most lasting and significant progress made under President Bush is represented
by the two Supreme Court justices [John Roberts and Samuel Alito] that he
nominated and the Senate confirmed,” said Father Frank Pavone, national director
of Priests for Life.
was the motivation for so many voters who elected the president both times. And
it has already paid off, as the Supreme Court upheld the ban on partial-birth
abortion,” he said. “Other federal courts, too, have been given men and women
who for decades will issue decisions consistent with the moral law, thanks to
“Legislatively,” Father Pavone added, “it’s only in the years ahead that we’ll
fully appreciate the significance of the progress that was made by the pro-life
laws the president signed.”
cited the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act as another example.
drew a line in the sand against infanticide,” said Deirdre McQuade, assistant
director of policy and communications for the U.S. Conference of Catholic
Bishops’ Pro-Life Secretariat.
2002 act “placed into the law a foundation that is essential to eventually
making abortion illegal,” Father Pavone explained. “That foundation is that the
law can protect a child in his or her first nine months of development, despite
a parent’s intention to kill that child. A child who survives a failed abortion
is now protected by law. That’s a crucial step forward.”
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum agreed that Alito and Roberts “have
proven to be exceptional choices” and that passage of the Partial-Birth Abortion
Ban was a highlight of Bush’s tenure. “After years of vetoes by President
Clinton, President Bush showed the courage to sign the bill that banned this
gruesome procedure,” he said.
Although passed in 2003, the law did not take effect until the Supreme Court
upheld it in the 2007 Gonzalez v. Carhart decision. Both Bush appointees
voted to uphold that ban. “It stood constitutional muster,” said McQuade.
pointed to the 2004 Unborn Victims of Violence Act as another milestone. “This
acknowledged there are separate victims if a mother and her unborn child are
injured,” she said. “These three major laws should not be touched by anything
President-elect Obama can do. Nothing’s beyond the scope of possibility, but
it’s highly unlikely.”
However, she said, other Bush policies will likely soon vanish because they
depend on White House approval.
policies include a prohibition on funding coerced abortion oversees, a limit on
federally funding embryonic stem-cell research, and allowing states to provide
coverage for prenatal care in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
facing extinction is the Mexico City Policy, which prohibits U.S. funding to
groups that perform or promote abortion as family planning abroad. Clinton
scrapped it, and Bush reinstated it.
just two days before Obama takes office, stronger federal guidelines will take
effect to protect the rights of doctors and other health-care workers from
having to assist in abortions and other medical procedures based on moral
objections. McQuade said the bishops welcome this conscience protection, which
Planned Parenthood is already working to eliminate.
Santorum also praised Bush’s 2001 decision to withhold federal funds for
human cloning and to limit funding for embryonic stem-cell research.
that point, American Life League President Judie Brown profoundly disagrees.
“George Bush left a legacy of confusion and proved to be a lackluster ‘pro-life’
politician,” she said. “He started off playing Pontius Pilate with human
embryonic children, and things never got better.”
kept in place part of the National Institutes of Health guidelines for embryonic
stem-cell research. These guidelines prohibit federal money from being used to
kill human embryos or for research using embryos specially created for research.
However, the guidelines would have allowed federal funds for research on stem
cells obtained by the privately funded killing of “excess” embryos from
fertility clinics, but Bush limited federal funding only to those 60 cell lines
already in existence.
the United Nations
“compromise” was hailed by some for discouraging future killing of human embryos
but criticized by many, including the American bishops, as still unethical. The
president’s decision allowed research “to continue to cultivate a disrespect for
human life,” Brown said.
fundamental question with stem cells is: Do you destroy life to save life?” the
president said during a Dec. 18 forum of the American Enterprise Institute. “I
came down on the side that there are other opportunities available to save lives
other than the destruction of life. And secondly, I was concerned about using
taxpayers’ money that would end up destroying life.”
said that since the Aug. 9, 2001, decision, adult skin cells have been used to
develop the equivalent of embryonic stem cells.
certainly had a positive impact, especially with his Supreme Court
appointments,” said Bill Cotter, head of Boston’s Operation Rescue, “but he
really wasn’t a leader for the pro-life cause.”
Cotter, a Catholic, has led semi-weekly prayer vigils outside Boston-area
abortion clinics since before Bush took office. “He didn’t adhere to a Catholic
understanding of the issue in regard to so-called family planning and
contraceptive funding,” Cotter said, “but there’s a night-and-day difference
between Bush and Obama.”
president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), Austin Ruse
observed the Bush administration’s struggle in the United Nations. C-FAM’s
mission is to defend life and family at international institutions.
“Bush’s lasting legacy will be Alito, Roberts and the judicial appointments that
last,” Ruse said. “Honestly, there will be no lasting legacy [at the United
Nations], because the Bush administration was profoundly outnumbered. But he did
a great thing for eight years in that he stopped big global conferences from
said the presence of the Bush administration at the United Nations prevented two
global conferences marking the 10th anniversary of the 1994 Cairo conference on
population and development and the 1995 Beijing conference on women, both of
which had serious population-control issues.
and his negotiators — particularly Ellen Sauerbrey — were among the bravest in
the world,” he said. Sauerbrey was the U.S. representative to the United Nations
Commission of the Status of Women, where she focused on improving women’s
economic and educational status and the protection of life.
times, she stood up completely alone; she was hooted at, hissed at, and booed,”
Ruse said. “Their victories are short-lived and will not last, but they were
heroic while they did it.”
-Gail Besse writes from Boston.