Communications Department

National Right to Life Comments on President Bush’s News Conference Answer

Oct 28, 2003 | PBA

President Bush was asked at today’s White House press conference: “Sir, in your last campaign, you said that the American public was not ready for a complete ban on abortion. You’re about to sign legislation that will ban a certain abortion procedure known as partial birth.  Do you believe that the climate has changed since the last campaign and all abortions should be banned?” President Bush responded, “Yes, I’ll sign the ban on partial-birth abortion. And, no, I don’t think the culture has changed to the extent that the American people or the Congress would totally ban abortions.”

President Bush is a strong and consistent supporter of pro-life policies, and will soon sign the first federal ban on an abortion method, for which millions of pro-life Americans are deeply grateful.  The President’s statement about the public is perfectly accurate, as there are multiple national polls that show majority support for limiting abortion to cases of rape, incest, and threat to the life of the mother, but no polls that indicate majority support for a law to “totally ban abortions.”

The statement about the Congress is also obviously correct, as the Senate in March voted by a narrow majority to endorse Roe v. Wade.

Furthermore, not every senator who opposes Roe v. Wade necessarily supports strong legal protection for unborn children.   While the news media often pose “Roe v. Wade” and “banning all abortions” as the only two possible abortion policies, in reality, the effect of overturning Roe v. Wade would not be to ban all abortions, or indeed to automatically ban any abortions, but rather, to return to elected lawmakers the authority to protect innocent human life to the extent they believe appropriate.

The current Supreme Court supports Roe v. Wade by a 6 to 3 margin.  See

Examples of polls showing majority support for limiting abortion to, at most, cases of threat to the life of the mother, rape, and incest, include a November 2002 Zogby poll (61%) and a December 2002 Wirthlin poll (62%).

The myth of a “pro-choice majority” is further demolished by polls that ask whether abortion should be legal in common circumstances.  For example, the January Gallup poll asked whether abortion should be legal or illegal “when the woman or family cannot afford to raise the child” (legal 35%, illegal 61%).  The January ABC News-Washington Post poll asked if abortion should be legal or illegal “if the woman is unmarried and does not want the baby” (legal 42%, illegal 57%).

More detailed discussion on recent abortion polls by NRLC Executive Director David O’Steen, Ph.D., is posted here:

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