Canton Repository

1-23-01

Anti-abortion president energizes D.C. crowd 

By PAUL M. KRAWZAK
Repository Washington correspondent

WASHINGTON — Canton-area residents marching against abortion rights on the 28th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision said Monday they were heartened at having an anti-abortion
president in the White House again.

‘‘I’m certainly hopeful that we will have a life mentality’’ in the White House, said Donna Gill of North Canton. ‘‘It really suffered a lot’’ when Bill Clinton was president. Tom Beck of North Canton credited President Bush for seeming ‘‘sincere and honest. He seems spiritual. He seems down-to-earth,’’ he said during the 28th annual March for Life.

Three days into the job after Saturday’s inauguration, Bush issued his first executive order, which bans federal aid to nongovernmental organizations that ‘‘perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning’’ in other nations.

The action reverses an order issued by Clinton on Jan. 22, 1993, which repealed the no-aid policy established by former President Reagan in 1984 and continued by his successor, former President Bush.

Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer said the resumption of the earlier policy will not stop organizations from ‘‘treating injuries or illnesses caused by legal or illegal abortions.’’

Reacting to the order, Kate Michelman, president of the National Abortion Rights Action League, issued a statement saying it ‘‘restricts family planning organizations that use their own privately raised, non-U.S. funds to lobby their own government on reproductive health matters ... The argument that U.S. funds are being used to pay for abortion is patently false. It has been illegal to use U.S. funds for abortion since
1975.’’

As demonstrators heard from anti-abortion lawmakers, religious leaders and activists before the march, they first were told that Bush had not sent a statement to the gathering.

‘‘I have not heard from the White House. That is extremely disappointing,’’ said Nellie Gray, president of the March for Life Education & Defense Fund. ‘‘However, we understand now there is a message from the White House,’’ she added moments later.

Rep. Christopher H. Smith, R-N.J., read the statement from Bush, in which the president said he shares the goal to ‘‘work toward a day when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law ... to build a culture of life, affirming that every person at every state and season of life is created equal in God’s image.’’

Bush’s statement added that ‘‘the promises of our Declaration of Independence are not just for the strong, the independent or the healthy. They are for everyone, including unborn children.’’

Lola Lehman of Wooster brought her daughter, son and two of his friends to the event. Like thousands of others, she boarded a bus late Sunday night and arrived in Washington in the morning.

While she isn’t sure abortion will ever be made illegal, she’s ‘‘hoping for a partial-birth abortion ban,’’ she said.

During the campaign, Bush expressed his opposition to partial-birth abortions.

Gill and Beck and their spouses are confident that Roe vs. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court that legalized abortion in 1973, could be overturned.

Anti-abortion leaders at the rally are working for the overthrow of the decision as well as a ban on partial-birth abortion.

‘‘With your hard work we will ultimately win the battle for life,’’ said Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati, who predicted Congress will pass legislation banning partial birth abortion and Bush will sign it.

Clinton vetoed similar legislation because it did not contain an exception to preserve the health of the mother.