WASHINGTON -- Abortion rights supporters are used to battle. But the ground has changed for the 28th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
Abortion foes were energized by the changed political landscape and planned to be out in force Monday, marking the Supreme Court ruling with marches and protests.
Bill Clinton, who helped the cause for keeping abortions legal, is gone from the White House, replaced by anti-abortion President Bush, who has nominated an even more staunch abortion opponent, John Ashcroft, as attorney general.
White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card served notice Sunday that several key abortion policies would be quickly reviewed by the Bush administration.
Asked about the recently approved "morning after" abortion pill, Card said "We're going to take a look at all of the regulations. We're going to take a look at all the executive orders."
Another regulation approved by Clinton restored federal funding for some groups that offer abortion counseling overseas. "That's an important matter," press secretary Ari Fleischer said. "The president does not support using federal funds to promote abortion.
"Certainly we can't count on the White House now," said Patricia Ireland, president of the National Organization for Women. "And we may not be able to count on the court even now -- but for sure if one more nominee gets through that's anything like the Ashcroft model."
As a Republican senator from Missouri, Ashcroft proposed a constitutional amendment that would outlaw nearly all abortions, including in cases of rape and incest. He also opposes most forms of contraception.
Republicans also control Congress now, and Bush could appoint one or more Supreme Court justices. Just one appointment could tip the balance -- with many decisions now being made on 5-4 votes. Any nominee, however, would have to be approved by a Senate divided 50-50 along party lines.
"It's like a shot across the bow -- a warning of things to come that could impact long past Bush's term, even if he's a two-term president," Ireland said.
First lady Laura Bush broke from her husband's views last week and said she did not think the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling should be overturned. But that gives little comfort to abortion rights supporters.
Regardless of what his wife thinks, "Bush has signaled that he is going to act on his personal convictions that a woman should not have the right to choose," said Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Abortion opponents are more upbeat than they have been in years. They include Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" of Roe v. Wade who now runs Dallas-based Roe No More Ministry, a speakers' referral service for the anti-abortion cause.
"I think the majority of pro-lifers are really looking forward to President Bush getting into office," McCorvey said. "I think we all have the same dream: We'd like to see Roe v. Wade overturned."
Abortion opponents think it's just a matter of time before abortion is outlawed again. "I think pro-life people -- and I think that's a majority in the country -- certainly feel better now," said David O'Steen, executive director of National Right to Life.
McCorvey, meanwhile, dismissed Ashcroft's statement at his Senate confirmation hearing that he would not try to make abortion illegal.
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