Prolife political activists considered White House Chief of Staff John Sununu their administration linchpin on the abortion issue. But with his departure last month and President Bush’s subsequent appointment of prochoice Samuel Skinner to the post, those activists are now wondering about the future. As the 1992 electoral season begins in earnest, many fear that the administration’s uncertainty over how to handle abortion reflects a wholesale Republican quandary over the issue.

Despite his abrasive style, Sununu was a valuable asset to the prolife movement. “Sununu wasn’t only a conduit between prolifers and the administration, he was an activist,” says National Review Washington correspondent Jack Fowler. “You knew he was a true believer, and he went to the mat on this issue.”

Prolife leaders say they will sorely miss that activism. “Sununu has done the President a great service by ensuring that legislative and policy matters were resolved in a manner consistent with the President’s prolife commitment,” says Doug Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee.

Virtually all observers agree the appointment of Skinner will not radically alter the President’s abortion stand. “George Bush has really cemented himself into his prolife position,” says Fowler. “Molly Yard could be chief of staff and I think he would still veto … bills trying to roll back standing abortion policy.”

But Family Research Council (FRC) staff director Chuck Donovan believes prolife representation “may lose something in intensity.” Adds the former Reagan administration official: “Intensity means a lot on this issue.”

The President’s position on abortion has become critical for the movement because of the erosion of prolife support in ...

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