Groups intent on ending abortion have mixed views on the Bush administration's record. While some praise the new president's approach as realistic and methodical, others lament what they see as a failure to take a strong moral stand.

Some critics say they have been demoralized by signs that the administration is not serious. First Lady Laura Bush said on NBC's Today in January that she did not think Roe v. Wade should be overturned. In April, USA Today quoted White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card as saying that President Bush doesn't feel "that he'll be able to eliminate abortions," and that while abortion was "a high moral priority for the president," it was not among his public policy priorities.

"What could be a greater priority than stopping the legal slaughter of more than 4,000 of our preborn American children each day?" asks Patrick Delaney, director of public policy for the American Life League in Stafford, Virginia.

The USA Today article also prompted a response from Family Research Council President Ken Connor, who questioned Card's view of presidential leadership. "Leadership is not jumping in front of a parade or waiting for a comfortable political climate before pressing for change," Connor said in a statement. "President Bush's election was a mandate for a new era of leadership, driven not by polls but by example and conviction."

Several prolife advocates say they wanted Bush to act swiftly and rescind the Clinton administration's authorization of taxpayer-funded human embryo research. The National Institutes of Health has published guidelines authorizing government-funded researchers to use stem cells extracted from already destroyed human embryos—something prolifers say violates federal law.

"There's been a real reluctance on the part of this administration to acknowledge that the Clinton administration behaved with absolute disregard for the law," says Michael Schwartz, Concerned Women for America's vice president for government relations. "The [Bush] administration doesn't seem to know what to do. They've been very, very sluggish in addressing this."

But other prolife advocates say that Bush—who has been in office for only six months—needs a fair chance.

"It's disheartening to hear prolifers already nipping at his heels, saying, 'You're not doing enough for us,'" says Carrie Gordon Earll, bioethics analyst for Focus on the Family. "Criticizing the president is not going to encourage him to work with the prolife movement."

Bush has already reversed a Clinton-era policy providing federal funds for abortion counseling overseas, appointed prolifers to key Cabinet positions, and announced an end to the liberal-leaning American Bar Association's monopoly in screening judicial nominees.

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"This shows that for all the Bush administration's shyness and reticence on the abortion issue, we have reason to feel positive," says Teresa Wagner, analyst for sanctity of life at the Family Research Council.

Mike Reid, president of the CareNet network of pregnancy resource centers, said he is encouraged by the administration's desire to help reduce the number of abortions and to work with groups like his through government support for faith-based charities. "[Bush] is laying a lot of good groundwork and is trying to stay out of trouble," Reid says. "He knows that he needs to choose his words and deeds carefully."

Related Elsewhere

See today's related article, "Counteroffensive Launched on RU-486 | Abortion-pill critics allege safety concerns overlooked in FDA approval process."

According to the USA Today article, "Bush has no intention … of jeopardizing his chances at re-election, by launching a crusade to outlaw abortion," despite the early overseas abortion action.

The Family Research Council's press release responding to the USA Today article is available at the organization's site.

On his first working day in office, Bush prohibited allocation of U.S. funds to groups who support abortion. The House supported Bush's directive by a vote of 218-210.

Jubilant by Bush's early action, opponents to abortion were greeted by words and action by the new president.

Looking at his priorities and accomplishments, devoted a special report of President Bush's first 100 days. Also at the 100 day mark, The Detroit News checked on Bush's progress issue by issue. The Washington Post had a similar series.

For more articles, see Yahoo's full coverage areas on the Bush administration and the abortion debate.

Related Christianity Today articles on Bush and abortion include:

Pushing Bush Right | Conservatives gear up to lobby for their presidential priorities. (Mar. 5, 2001)

Editorial: Changing Hearts and Laws | Our recommendations for President Bush and the 107th Congress. (Mar. 1, 2001)

The Bush Agenda | Will the White House be user-friendly for religious organizations? (Jan. 8, 2001)

Bush's Call to Prayer | After Al Gore's concession, evangelical leaders unify around faith-based initiatives, morality, and prayer as the incoming Bush administration gears up. (Dec. 14, 2000)

A Presidential Hopeful's Progress | The spiritual journey of George W. Bush starts in hardscrabble west Texas. Will the White House be his next stop? (Sept. 5, 2000)

Bush and Gore Size Up Prolife Running Mates | Will abortion stances play an influential role in Vice Presidential selection? (July 13, 2000)

Might for Right? | As presidential primaries get under way, Christian conservatives aim to win. (Feb. 3, 2000)

Abortion Advocacy Overseas Restricted for First Time since 1993 | Only $15 million of $385 million family-planning budget to go to organizations supporting abortion (Dec. 15, 1999)
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