Far-reaching antiabortion legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Congress by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) and Sen. Gordon Humphrey (R-N.H.).

If passed, the bill—called the President’s Prolife Bill because the White House proposed it—would accomplish three major goals of the right-to-life movement. First, the proposed bill states that the Supreme Court “erred” when it made abortion legal in 1973 and that “a right to abortion is not secured by the Constitution.” Also, it permanently prohibits the federal government from paying for abortion unless the mother’s life is endangered. Finally, the bill would bar federal family-planning dollars from groups that provide abortion procedures or referrals.

Although President Reagan has been a vocal proponent of a prolife view, this new bill represents his administration’s first attempt to assume leadership on right-to-life legislation. Critics have charged the President engages in more talk than action on this issue. Administration strategists say the White House has been slow to act because of a lack of consensus among prolife activists on priorities and strategy.

Mixed Reviews

With very few exceptions, prolife groups support the President’s bill, but with varying degrees of enthusiasm. While some view it a top priority, others continue to focus their efforts on other legislative measures.

The most enthusiastic support has come from the Ad Hoc Committee in Defense of Life, a New York-based lobbying organization that regards the bill as a decisive battle in the abortion war. The group states in its publication Life-letter that it will take “an all-out effort to win,” adding that a failure to make that effort “would ...

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