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CNN Today

Anti-Abortion Demonstrators March to U.S. Supreme Court

Aired January 22, 2001 - 1:28 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Abortion opponents will likely be pleased to hear of the announcement by President Bush this afternoon, that he is restricting U.S. funds to international family-planning groups.

Those opponents are holding a rally in Washington today. They will march to the U.S. Supreme Court, which issued the Roe versus Wade decision, legalizing abortion 28 years ago today.

CNN's Eileen O'Connor is watching events that fold -- unfold for us -- Eileen.

EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Natalie, as you said, they are pleased by that decision.

But they would like to go further. They would like nothing less than overturning Roe v. Wade, which as you know was the decision made 28 years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court, which in effect legalized abortions in this country.

This march has taken place every year in Washington for the last 28 years, marking the anniversary of that legal decision. And now, while President Bush has said that he's not sure the country is ready to overturn Roe versus Wade, he would in fact support, he has said, a constitutional amendment which would ban abortions except for the cases of rape, incest or if the woman's life in jeopardy.

Another thing that people here are hoping he will do is at least limit access to abortions. And already, his chief of staff, Andrew Card, has said that they will look at the approval -- the recent approval in the fall of RU-486, which is the so-called abortion pill.

Now, that was approved under the Food and Drug Administration during the Clinton administration. And while George W. Bush has said it is difficult to overturn the decision, what he would like his aides to do is look at it and see if critics of that decision are right, and that this pill could potential be considered dangerous for the mother. If that is the case, and President Bush believes that perhaps, he could overturn that approval of RU-486.

Now, pro-choice advocates say that they believe, again, that's an infringement, and it limits the woman's right to choose by limiting her access to abortion. But, again, the president has said that he is not in favor of overturning immediately Roe versus Wade. But he did give a statement of support to this crowd. It was read by Republican Congressman from New Jersey Chris Smith.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. CHRIS SMITH (R), NEW JERSEY: We share a great goal: to work toward a day when every child is welcome in life and protected in law.

President Bush goes on to write: "We know this will not come easily or all at once. But the goal leads us onward to build a culture of life, affirming that every person at every stage and season of life is created equally in God's image.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'CONNOR: Now, of course, activists here see this step of banning the use of federal funds to overseas family-planning agencies who may provide or advice on abortion -- they see that as the first step along that road that the president was talking about in his statement towards protecting life.

And of course, pro-choice groups see this as the first step along another slippery slope -- Natalie.

ALLEN: And are there any pro-choice groups out there rallying as well in Washington today?

O'CONNOR: I actually haven't seen them. You know, they've been very active, in fact, Natalie, up on the Hill today, the pro-choice groups, because as you know, the Senate is considering the nomination of John Ashcroft. They had the hearings last week. And his confirmation vote is coming up.

So they say that they have been trying to energize their groups against his approval as attorney general. Why? Because he is also anti-abortion and has a voting record that supports he is against abortion. So they're -- they're using their energies up on the Hill -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Eileen O'Connor, on Capitol Hill, thanks, Eileen.

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