John Kerry, President Bush, Differ in Response to Abortion Decision

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 2, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

John Kerry, President Bush, Differ in Response to Abortion Decision

by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 2, 2004

Washington, DC ( — As expected, the campaigns of President George W. Bush and likely Democratic nominee John Kerry are differing in their responses to a judge’s decision Tuesday striking down a ban on partial-birth abortions.

For the president and pro-life groups, the decision points to the need for judges who are willing to uphold the rule of law and won’t be activists from the bench.

U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton, who voided the abortion ban, was a Clinton appointee nominated by the former president at the very end of his second term.

"[The] tragic ruling upholding partial birth abortion shows why America needs judges who will interpret the law and not legislate from the bench," the Bush campaign said in a statement.
"John Kerry’s judicial nominees would similarly frustrate the people’s will and allow this grotesque procedure to continue."

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Kerry camp said the Massachusetts senator, who has voted repeatedly against the partial-birth abortion ban, agrees with Judge Hamilton that a health exception is necessary.

Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said Kerry would support a ban with a "clear exception for life or health of women."

That surprises proponents of the legislation, which already contains an exception to protect the life of the mother. A health exception is unnecessary supporters say because the medical community has acknowledged that there is never any instance where the three-day-long abortion procedure would protect a woman’s health in an emergency situation.

"When John Kerry is president he will appoint judges that are committed to upholding the Constitution, not pursuing an ideological agenda," Cutter said.

However, Kerry has already committed to only appointing judges who will uphold the Roe v. Wade decision allowing unlimited abortion.

Should the case continue past the November elections, the Bush administration will continue to defend the law Congress passed.

Justice Department spokeswoman Monica Goodling said the government "will continue to devote all resources necessary to defend this act of Congress, which President Bush has said ‘will end an abhorrent practice and continue to build a culture of life in America.’"

It is unlikely that Kerry, if elected president, will appoint a pro-life Attorney General or use his position as president to continue defending the constitutionality of the legislation.