Anti-Abortion Campaign Under Way in U.S.

«Shake the Nation» Focuses on Supreme Court Nominees

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WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPT. 4, 2001 ( A coalition of pro-life groups is kicking off a campaign to encourage President George W. Bush and the Senate to fill the next Supreme Court vacancy with an abortion opponent.

The campaign began today with television advertising in Washington and is expected to spread to other cities this autumn. As part of the effort, the coalition plans to encourage thousands of abortion foes to mail baby rattles to their senators, the New York Times reported.

Kristin Hansen, media director of the Family Research Council, said at a press conference: «Through the Shake the Nation campaign, millions of Americans will send a clear message to Washington, D.C. — the culture of life must be protected by the Congress, by the president, and by the courts.»

The campaign comes amid the first signs of stress in the relationship between Bush and the pro-life movement, an important component of the president´s political base.

Bush´s decision last month to allow federal financing for limited stem cell research was supported, or at least condoned, by some social conservatives who might have been expected to oppose it. Those in favor included the National Right to Life Committee, the Rev. Jerry Falwell and James Dobson, president of Focus on the Family. But it was criticized by others, including Vatican Radio, Catholic bishops and evangelical organizations.

The organizer of the Shake the Nation campaign, Janet L. Folger, said she hoped it would give Bush «a lot more confidence and the members of the Senate a lot more courage.» She added: «I can tell you this. There can never be another David Souter.»

Folger was referring to the Supreme Court justice appointed by Bush´s father in 1990. Souter´s views on abortion were largely unknown then, and he has disheartened pro-lifers by voting in support of abortion, the Times noted.

Three Supreme Court justices are over age 70, and many observers expect at least one retirement within the next few years.

At the moment, Bush would have to nominate someone capable of winning confirmation from a Senate where Democrats hold a 50-to-49 advantage. Folger and her allies hope to ensure that Bush does not compromise his anti-abortion principles in pursuit of an easy confirmation.

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