VATICAN CITY, JAN. 24, 2001 (Zenit.org)
.- U.S. President George W. Bush´s decision to block the public funding of U.S. abortion programs abroad caught the attention of L´Osservatore Romano today.
The semiofficial Vatican newspaper´s Italian edition said that the measure is “a clear censure of the eight-year democratic administration led by Bill Clinton.”
“Bush´s decision has coincided with the 28th anniversary of the so-called Roe v. Wade 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion,” it said. The news was announced when thousands of protesters were in Washington, D.C., marching against abortion and the RU-486 abortion pill.
The new president sent a letter to the protesters, stressing his determination “to build a culture of life that respects and protects the person at all times and in all the facets of his/her life. … The promises contained in our Declaration of Independence are not only addressed to the powerful. They affect everyone, including unborn children.”
L´Osservatore Romano pointed out that Bush´s measure directly opposes Clinton´s first official act as president: In 1993, Clinton released funds for abortion abroad, which had been frozen by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.
The Vatican newspaper also quotes Bush´s spokesman, Ari Fleischer, who said: “The president is convinced that taxpayers´ money should not go to procure abortion.”
L´Osservatore Romano also quotes the nominee for secretary of health, Tommy Thompson, who expressed grave doubts over the safety of the abortion pill recently introduced in the country.
Moreover, http://www.radiovaticano.org also dedicated much space to this news. Commenting on the matter, Cathy Cleaver, spokeswoman for the U.S. bishops on life issues, applauded many of Bush´s commitments in this area, including partial birth abortion and “assisted suicide.” Cleaver also supported the new president´s opposition to public funding of scientific research using human embryos.
However, Cleaver clarified that, altogether, Bush´s “position is not totally in agreement with the doctrine of the Catholic Church.” She said: “President Bush is walking in the right direction as regards abortion, but he is mistaken as regards the death penalty.”
During the six years Bush was governor of Texas, 152 convicts were executed in the state. In 1999, especially during his last U.S. visit, John Paul II said that, at present, when the state has other options to protect its citizens, recourse to execution is not in keeping with respect for the value of life, which is a gift from God.