In one of his first official acts as President, George W. Bush announced yesterday his intentions to block funding of international organizations and clinics that offer abortion procedures or counseling. President Clinton had signed an executive order authorizing such funding three days after taking office in 1992. Bush's action will reinstate the ban on such funding that had been in place up to that time under both the Reagan and Bush administrations. The announcement comes on the 28th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and has been accompanied by a formal statement of support from the President to pro-life advocates. The statement will be read by a Bush spokesperson to pro-life demonstrators in the Capitol today. Both actions signal the President's intention to aggressively limit the right to an abortion and are in line with his controversial choice for Attorney General, John Ashcroft, who has publicly stated his opposition to abortion even in cases of rape and incest. The administration also announced its intention to review the release of RU 486, though Tommy Thompson, Bush's nominee for the head of Health and Human Services, stated in his confirmation hearing last week, that any withdrawal of the "abortion pill" should be premised fundamentally on health concerns. The President, however, does not necessarily share this opinion and may instruct Thompson to do otherwise. In a potentially related development, USA Today reported Monday that Sandra Day O'Connor was considering imminent retirement from the court, in part due to her discomfort with the lingering acrimony on the Court over the December decision that effectively ratified the election results for Bush. If O'Connor retires, it will give Bush an early opportunity to consider appointing to the court someone in the mold of the justices he says he most admires -- staunchly pro-life jurists Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.
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