- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 28, 2003

President Bush had two interesting remarks about abortion at his White House press conference yesterday. “Yes,” he said to a question, “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.” The second statement might be true, and the cautious comment reflects the controversial nature of the issue. But the president has room to use the bully pulpit.

The abortion industry’s control of the issue is eroding. In Austin, Texas, Planned Parenthood hasn’t been able to find a contractor willing to build a new abortion clinic. In Pennsylvania, an abortionist settled a malpractice suit accusing him of failing to inform a woman about the perceived link between abortion and breast cancer. The suit was financed by the Women’s Injury Network, a charity that pays legal expenses for plaintiffs in abortion malpractice cases.

Susan Marie Gertz, executive director of the network, calls this a pivotal moment in abortion law. “In this case, the plaintiff did not sustain any physical injuries,” Miss Gertz told us in an interview. “The suit was solely about a woman’s right to be informed about the potential risks of abortion. The settlement opens up the floodgates for more suits across the country.” This new pro-life legal strategy aims to nickel-and-dime abortion clinics to death in the way similar failure-to-inform claims are hurting tobacco companies.

Signing into law the first federal restriction on abortion since the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision is distinct progress. But it should be merely the beginning, not the end. Hispanics, a group of voters the Bush administration has courted aggressively, favor restrictions on abortion more than any other group. Thirty-seven percent of them say abortion should be banned outright. Polls consistently show that more than 70 percent of all Americans support further restricting abortion. A Gallup Poll in June found that two-thirds of Americans think abortion is morally wrong. The president should look for opportunities to nudge public opinion toward the values of life he holds dear.

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