by Steven Ertelt
November 5, 2004
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — After earning support form the pro-life community for his battles against assisted suicide and partial-birth abortion, Attorney General John Ashcroft is expected to step down from his position as the nation’s top attorney.
Senior aides on Thursday said Ashcroft is ready to leave the post because he’s fatigued from fighting the war on terrorism, which has significantly involved the Justice Department. Ashcroft has suffered from severe stress that has affected his health and resulted in the removal of his gall bladder earlier this year.
Ashcroft is expected to resign before President Bush’s second term, which begins with his inauguration on January 20th. There is a small chance he could stay on, at the president’s request, for short time afterwards in order to make a transition more smooth.
The former Missouri governor and U.S. senator achieved a strong pro-life voting record while he served on Capitol Hill and he continued advocating his pro-life position on behalf of the Bush administration.
Ashcroft issued an opinion saying the Controlled Substances Act allowed the federal government to prohibit the use of federally-regulated drugs in assisted suicides in Oregon. Since all drugs used to kill patients under the unique Oregon assisted suicide law are under federal control, the opinion would make it difficult for doctors to help patients kill themselves.
However, the state of Oregon and euthanasia advocates challenged the ruling and their lawsuit is still tied up in courts.
The Justice Department also strongly defended the ban on partial-birth abortions that President Bush signed.
Ashcroft’s team of attorneys is credited with forcing abortion practitioners to describe in gruesome detail the step by step method of dismembering an unborn child during the controversial procedure.
Justice Department attorneys also introduced the concept of fetal pain and, for the first time, prompted the nation to begin considering the pain that unborn children endure during an abortion.
The testimony has led to legislation that Congress is expected to consider next year requiring abortion businesses to allow women to request anesthesia for their baby prior to the abortion.
"Attorney General Ashcroft has been a tireless fighter for the sanctity of human life from birth to the end of life," Nikolas Nikas of Americans United for Life, told LifeNews.com. "The cause for life will miss his courage and tenacity."
Some of the names that have surfaced as possible replacements for Ashcroft include Ashcroft’s former deputy, Larry Thompson. A pro-life advocate, Thompson would become the nation’s first black Attorney General. Other possibilities include Marc Racicot, the former Montana governor who is pro-life and served as the chairman of Bush’s re-election bid.
Pro-abortion White House general counsel Alberto Gonzales, who has concerned pro-life groups because he has been mentioned as a possible Supreme Court appointee, is another consideration.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, another possibility, told the Associated Press he wasn’t interested in the job.