On Thursday, in one of his last acts as president, Bush declared Jan. 18 “National Sanctity of Human Life Day,” stating that the "the most basic duty of government is to protect the life of the innocent."
Bush’s declaration was the culmination of eight years of pro-life policies that included sustained opposition to embryonic stem cell research; the appointment of two pro-life Supreme Court Justices; an executive order barring federal funds to be used for abortion- related projects abroad; and a rule protecting federally funded health employees from taking part in abortion-related activities or other practices that conflicted with their religious views.
“In the annals of history, George W. Bush will be remembered as a president who believed and fought to protect innocent human life,” Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America (CWA), told CNSNews.com. “While we'll never know how many lives were saved, and rarely will a person know that his or her life was rescued because of his policies, we do know that he set a standard that others can follow.”
“We have seen in Bush the most pro-life president that we have ever had for this cause of defending the unborn,” Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, told CNSNews.com. “He set up a tremendous groundwork.”
In 2001, President Bush declared that federal funds could not be used for embryonic stem cell research, which requires the destruction of human embryos. Instead, Bush promoted adult stem cell research, which does not destroy embryos.
In the same year, Bush also reinstated a Reagan-era mandate known as the Mexico City Policy that had been removed by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. The policy requires all non-governmental organizations that receive federal funding to refrain from performing or promoting abortions in other countries.
In 2002, Bush’s Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tommy G. Thompson implemented the “unborn child rule.” It requires the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) -- a federal program that gives funds to states to provide health insurance to families with children -- to define the term “child” to include from conception to birth.
Also in 2002, Bush signed the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which extends legal protection to infants who survive induced abortions by providing them with identical legal protections as babies who are born prematurely.
In 2003, President Bush signed into law the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which prohibits late-term abortions.
In 2004, Bush signed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which defines a child “in utero” at any stage of development as human, and accords the child the legal rights of the victim if subject to certain crimes that involve death or injury.
In 2005 and 2006, Bush appointed two pro-life justices, Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, respectively, to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 2007, both justices voted to uphold the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, which was challenged in a lawsuit.
In 2007, Bush also sent congressional Democratic leaders a letter threatening to veto any bill that weakened existing pro-life policy.
In 2008, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt issued a regulation to protect the rights of federally funded health care providers to decline to participate in services to which they morally object, including abortion.
“Bush has achieved more than any other pro-life president,” Darla St. Martin, co-executive director of National Right to Life, told CNSNews.com. “Bush was just outstanding. He was very dedicated from the moment he came into office. He was a tremendous pro-life president and he will be very much missed.”