Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Win on Abortion Gives Bush Boost

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Win on Abortion Gives Bush Boost

Article excerpt

GEORGE BUSH bowed to the far right. Tom Foley tried to twist the arm of the conservative left. Bush won.

In a high-profile showdown this week that underscored the politically and socially volatile nature of the abortion issue, Congress sustained President Bush's veto of a bill that would have supported abortion counseling at federally funded clinics.

"Of the abortion-related issues before Congress, this one has the most widespread support," says Thomas Mann, director of Governmental Studies at the Brookings Institution, about the so-called "gag rule." But, he adds, "the intensity remains with the pro-life side."

The bill, a $205 billion appropriations package for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, contained language that would have blocked a rule barring family planning clinics that receive Title X funding to discuss abortion with patients.

The legislation funds every major health and welfare program in the country.

The House vote was 276 to 156, 12 votes shy of the two-thirds needed to override.

President Reagan had originally announced the regulations banning such counseling in 1988, but the issue was stalled by a court challenge that reached the Supreme Court in May. In Rust v. Sullivan, the high court ruled that the federal government may restrict federally funded clinics from discussing abortion with patients.

Both President Bush and Speaker Foley took risks: Bush by backing the far right on an issue that had wide public opposition; Foley by publicly predicting he had the votes to hand the president his first override in 24 vetos.

FOLEY'S defeat gives Bush a boost at a time when he is being criticized for his handling of domestic and economic issues, but the question still remains which side will be more affected during the election year.

The vote "defines the differences" between the Republicans and the Democrats, says Rep. …

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