President Bush Comments on South Dakota Abortion Ban in Interview

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 1, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 1, 2006

Washington, DC ( — President George W. Bush made his first comments on South Dakota’s abortion ban legislation in an interview with ABC News on Tuesday. The state’s legislature has approved the first ban on abortions since Roe v. Wade and the governor there is expected to sign it.

The president said he is pro-life but explained that his view on the rare circumstances when an abortion should be allowed is different from the South Dakota bill, which has a provision for abortion only in cases to save the life of the mother.

Since first campaigning for president in 2000, Bush has said he favors exceptions for rape and incest, which are generally opposed by the pro-life community.

"Well, that, of course, is a state law, but my position has always been three exceptions: rape, incest and the life of the mother," Bush told ABC News.

President Bush made it clear he disagreed with health exceptions that render abortion bans meaningless.

Asked about the health of the mother, Bush said he only supported an exceptiojn to save the mother’s life.

Pressed to support the health exception, the president disagreed.

"No. I said life of the mother, and health is a very vague term, but my position has been clear on that ever since I started running for office," he exaplined.

According to an Alan Guttmacher Institute survey of women who had abortions, women said they obtained an abortion because they were victims of rape on less than one percent of all abortion occasions.

That puts the president on record as opposing about 99 percent of all abortions and the South Dakota ban allowing fewer still.

Bush said he’s been focused on other issues and hasn’t followed the South Dakota abortion ban closely. He repeated he does not have an abortion litmus test for judicial nominees even though his two Supreme Court picks drew near-unanimous support from pro-life groups and are regarded as pro-life.

"I haven‘t paid attention to … this particular issue," Bush said. "I can tell you I will put people on the court without a litmus test. In other words, I haven‘t said to these judges, you know, ‘Give me your opinion on this case if it would be coming your way.’"

President Bush enjoys strong support from the pro-life community and has signed numerous pro-life bills into law, including a ban on partial-birth abortions, the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. He strongly opposes all forms of human cloning and has limited taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research.