Gore Seeks Consensus In Abortion Debate

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Jan. 22) --Vice President Al Gore marked the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States by announcing a proposal to increase federal funding for family planning programs.

Gore also reached out for common ground in the longstanding bitter national abortion debate.

"Nearly half of all pregnancies in America are unplanned and more than half of all of those unplanned pregnancies end in abortion," Gore said. "That's why we must invest in education and family planning, teach the value of abstinence, teach the risks of unprotected sex and make sure that women have access to counseling and contraception."

Gore spoke Wednesday at a luncheon sponsored by the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League.

"President Clinton and I will propose a dramatic increase in family planning," Gore said. "We will propose to triple last year's increase and add $15 million to make abortion less necessary all across America. This would be the single largest increase since President Clinton and I took office and a 41 percent increase over the last budget request from the previous administration."

The White House initiative also would expand U.S. funding for international family planning programs and provide federal money for research on better forms of contraception. The proposal also would help pay for education programs which stress contraception and abstinence as primary ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

"Just as I have made the case that those who feel passionately that abortion is wrong, ought to by logic ... support an increase to make contraception more available because it makes sense. I think according to the same logic, those who feel passionately that a woman's right to choose must be enshrined and protected also ought to and I think will support a greater effort aimed at teaching young people the value of abstinence until they are ready to take responsibility for their sexuality and the consequences of their sexuality," said Gore.

The vice president offered increased emphasis on preventing unwanted pregnancies as a way to reach out to political conservatives who oppose legalized abortion.

"To those who are anti-choice, I say, if you want to work together to make abortion less necessary, you will find eager, willing partners among the people in this administration. Rather than spending all of our time arguing over what divides us, let us try to join forces on a cause that unites us: the need for more and better family planning," Gore added.

"Let us mark this anniversary not just by holding our ground on the issue of choice.... Let us pound home the point that the single most effective way to reduce the number of abortions is to reduce the number of intended pregnancies," he proposed.

Reporters were kept far away from the vice president, who has yet to react to allegations that President Bill Clinton lied under oath about an alleged sexual relationship with a former White House intern. Clinton has denied the story.

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Thursday Jan. 22, 1998

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