Presidents and Abortion

The President of the United States can do many things, concretely and symbolically, to affect federal abortion policy. Here is a partial list:
The President appoints Justices to the United States Supreme Court and it is that Court that ultimately reviews many abortion-related statutes;
The President may initiate, sign or veto legislation related to abortion.  For example, President George Bush signed a number of significant pro-life laws, including the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which makes it a crime within federal jurisdictions to harm or kill an unborn child as a consequence of an attack on the mother, the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, which declares born-alive babies legal persons that have protections under the law, and the Partial-Birth Abortion Act, which bans a certain type of late-term abortion.  On the other hand, President Bill Clinton vetoed a similar bill on two occasions;
The President appoints the U.S. Attorney General, who can enforce (or not enforce), laws relating to abortion. John Ashcroft, President Bush’s first Attorney General, used his authority to crack down on abortion doctors who ignored the new prohibition on “partial-birth” abortions. On the other hand, President Clinton’s Attorney General, Janet Reno, vigorously prosecuted violators of the Freedom to Access Clinic Entrances (FACE) law, which sought to protect abortion clinics from pro-life violence;
The President appoints people to other important positions where they can adopt regulations to restrict or increase access to abortions.  Those positions include the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Surgeon General and the directors of the Center for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health;
The President can utilize the “bully pulpit” to make the case for “choice” or “life.”  For example, President Ronald Reagan designated a “National Sanctity of Life Day,” issued “Personhood” proclamations in 1984 and 1988 and even wrote “Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation,” an essay where he laid down a principle about the “sanctity of life.”  President Clinton, on the other hand, championed abortion rights, repeated declaring that it should be “safe, legal and rare.”

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