Abortion Advocates Criticize Photo of Bush Signing Abortion Ban

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 11, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Abortion Advocates Criticize Photo of Bush Signing Abortion Ban

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
November 11, 2003

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — When it comes to the abortion debate, symbolism is sometimes more important than substance. That’s the case with a picture taken last week of President Bush signing the ban on partial-birth abortions.

Abortion advocates are criticizing a picture taking of Bush signing the ban. In a line behind him stand key pro-life lawmakers, including Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), and the leading sponsors of the ban, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH).

As is often the case with any legislation, the group of lawmakers joining the president were the ones who led the fight to pass the bill.

The problem with the picture? They’re all men.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that no women were present is indicative of the desire of President Bush and pro-life groups to limit women’s rights.

Pelosi found the picture "disconcerting" because "it’s a group of men celebrating depriving women of a medical procedure that could save their health and their lives."

"It was slap in the face to women across America,” Pelosi said.

White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said the picture resulted from not having enough room for everyone to appear with Bush.

Thus, even though more than 100 members of Congress attended the bill signing, including many women, only the main sponsors were invited onstage.

Several pro-life women who are leaders at pro-life organizations told LifeNews.com that the Bush administration and the pro-life community must be cognizant of the fact that women should be more out front on the issue — if only because of the pro-abortion rhetoric that abortion is a women’s issue.

"It was unfortunate that the many women in leadership positions on the Hill who actively spoke out against partial birth abortion were not visible in the photo-op with the president as he signed the legislation," Serrin Foster, president of Feminists for Life, told LifeNews.com

Foster said many key pro-life lawmakers who helped the partial-birth abortion ban come to fruition are women, including Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Melissa Hart (R-PA), Sue Myrick (R-NC), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and JoAnn Davis (R-VA).

Connie Mackey, legislative director for the Family Research Council, agreed.

"Had I been consulted I would have suggested the directors of crisis pregnancy centers all across the country, Silent No More, and other [pro-life] women’s organizations would have been in the backdrop," Mackey told LifeNews.com.

Foster said the picture and the pro-abortion groups’ exploitation of it, only furthers their false claims that a majority of women support abortion and oppose the ban.

"Women overwhelmingly supported the ban, and women lead many if not most pro-life organizations," Foster explained. "Most importantly, through this legislation, women — as well as children — will be protected from this form of extreme violence."

But the picture has rallied pro-abortion groups.

"It seems as though everybody I see is waving this picture around," said Gloria Feldt, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told the New York Times.

Meanwhile, NARAL put the photo of Bush on its web site. David Seldin, the pro-abortion group’s communications director (and a man), e-mailed the link to reporters Friday under the subject line, "A Picture for the Ages.”

"If we had the money we’d put it on TV every day from now till the election,” Seldin said in the e-mail.

Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee says abortion advocates are simply manufacturing an issue to draw attention away from the gruesomeness of the partial-birth abortion procedure.

"The real pictures of what the argument is all about are the medically accurate drawings of a partial-birth abortion," Johnson told LifeNews.com. "It appears that roughly equal numbers of female and male premature infants are delivered feet first to within inches of birth, after which their skulls are punctured and their brains removed."

"Polls show that American women are overwhelmingly in favor of the ban, and over two dozen women in Congress voted for the ban," Johnson concluded.