News Articles

Bush to Dems: Veto will uphold life

WASHINGTON (BP)–President Bush promised congressional leaders May 3 he will veto any bill that diminishes pro-life protections in federal policies.

The president sent letters to both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi “to make sure that there is no misunderstanding” of his position, Bush said. The president said he would veto any measure sent him by the Democratic-controlled Congress that “weakens current Federal policies and laws on abortion, or that encourages the destruction of human life at any stage.”

Bush’s messages to Reid and Pelosi came after he received letters from groups of Republicans in both houses urging him to make a public commitment to veto such measures. The letters -– sent Feb. 15 from 34 senators and March 30 from 155 representatives -– were signed by enough members in both houses to sustain a veto. A two-thirds majority in each chamber is required to override a veto.

Pro-life advocates praised Bush’s pledge.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, described Bush’s action as a “bold step” that “has cemented his place as the most pro-life president both in word and deed since abortion on demand was made legal by the infamous Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.”

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said Bush’s “legacy in support of a culture of life is solidified with this letter. This veto promise and [other pro-life actions] should send a clear message to Democratic leadership that any attempts to further push their abortion agenda will be stopped at the door.”

Meanwhile, Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-choice America, one of the country’s leading abortion rights organizations, said Bush’s letter “underscores the need to put a pro-choice president in the White House. That’s the best way to stop these attacks on women’s freedom and privacy.”

In his letters to Reid and Pelosi, the president said he was concerned Congress might seek to change federal policies on abortion, including efforts to provide federal funds “to be used for the destruction of human life.”

Bush included as examples of policies worthy of protection: bans on abortion funding in this country and overseas; restrictions on grants to organizations that promote abortion as a family planning method; and protection for human embryos.

Many pro-life policies are maintained as sections of appropriations bills that have to be approved each year. Among these is the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funds for abortion, except when the mother’s life is endangered or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

Abortion rights organizations have been urging the Senate and House leadership to seek to rescind these pro-life provisions, according to the National Right to Life Committee.

It is not the first time a Republican president has sent such a warning to the Democratic leadership of Congress, the GOP senators said in their February letter. Bush’s father, President George H.W. Bush, sent a similar message to the Democratic-controlled Congress in June 1991. Bush’s warning apparently stemmed some of the attacks against pro-life policies, the senators said in their letter.

“It seems that committee chairs were more successful in holding pro-abortion provisions at bay where there was a formal declaration that their legislation had no chance of enactment if it contained pro-abortion and other anti-life measures that weakened present law or regulations,” the senators wrote. “Issuance of such a letter now would be timely and of tremendous value in our effort to ensure that no life-related policy is weakened during the 110th Congress.”