Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) -- Americans may have their dispute with President Bush on other political issues and those disputes may have led them to support pro-abortion Barack Obama for president. But top pro-life leaders say Bush will leave behind a very strong and lasting legacy as a champion of the pro-life cause.
During his administration, President Bush saw abortions decline to historic lows and he made history himself by signing the first measure to ever ban a form of abortion.
Every pro-life leader LifeNews.com contacted showered Bush with words of praise.
"President Bush's conviction that innocent human life deserves respect in law and culture runs deep," Concerned Women for America president Wendy Wright said.
"From signing pro-life laws, instituting pro-life regulations, to promoting pro-life international policies, he faced vicious opposition yet did not relent. Bureaucrats worked to undermine and thwart his policies, sometimes working hand-in-hand with pro-abortion groups and hostile media. But he was not deterred," she said.
Bill Donohue, the head of the Catholic League, agreed.
"George W. Bush will be remembered as doing more to build a culture of life than any president," he told LifeNews.com.
"From embryonic stem cell research and cloning to the Born Alive Infants Protection Act and partial-birth abortion, George W. Bush has been the pro-life community’s best friend," he explained.
The president demonstrated his pro-life commitment on his first day in office when he reinstituted the Mexico City Policy that stops taxpayer funding of groups that promote or perform abortions in other nations. Later he extended that policy further to prevent pro-abortion funding within all State Department programs.
He also cut off funding for the UNFPA, a United Nations agency found to have been involved in supporting and working with Chinese family planning officials as the implemented the nation's one-child policy with forced abortions.
Bush followed that up with a policy preventing taxpayers from being forced to pay for new embryonic stem cell research that destroys human life.
The president signed every piece of pro-life legislation that came to his desk, including the partial-birth abortion ban and a bill to make sure babies who survive botched abortions receive appropriate medical care.
Bush signed into law the Unborn Victims of Violence Act to offer protection and justice to pregnant women like Laci Peterson and their unborn children who are killed or injured in violent attacks.
He also signed measures to reduce abortions among disabled babies by helping provide parents of children with Down syndrome and other ailments with alternatives.
President Bush also repeatedly threatened to veto any Congressional bill that removed one of the many different protections against taxpayer funded abortions.
On the bioethics front, President Bush offered to sign a ban on all forms of human cloning, though Congress never took him up on the offer. He also pressed for a UN call for nations to ban human cloning.
Bush tried to stop the use of federally-controlled drugs in assisted suicides in Oregon, but the courts stopped him from doing so and Congress never approved a bill backing him up.
And Bush signed into law a measure designed to help the family of Terri Schiavo save her from a painful starvation and dehydration death at the hands of her former husband.
"His attempt to save Terri Schindler Schiavo from a painful death showed his compassion for one vulnerable life," Wright said.
For other pro-life leaders, the contrast between the Bush years and the Obama administration on pro-life issues will be striking.
"President Bush leaves a strong pro-life legacy that will really only be understood in his wake with the heart-breaking ascendancy of a radical pro-abortion president," pro-life nurse and blogger Jill Stanek said. "I will miss him."
Stanek points out the not-so-heralded actions Bush took and says he appointed pro-life people to the key positions that mattered when it came to policy.
Father Frank Pavone said a president can be measured not only by the impact he has during his time in office but by the future impact his actions have. That, he says, is expressed in the fact that Bush named two Supreme Court judges that pro-life advocates strongly support.
"By far, the most lasting and significant progress made under President Bush is represented by the two Supreme Court Justices he nominated and the Senate confirmed," he told LifeNews.com. "That was the motivation for so many voters who elected the president both times. And it has already paid off, as the Supreme Court upheld the ban on partial-birth abortion."
Pavone says he personally saw the pro-life commitment of Bush and his administration during his interaction with him.
"In ways the public usually doesn't hear about, pro-life men and women have been shaping and implementing federal policies and doing all they can to advance a culture of life through administrative decisions and policy proposals, both domestic and international," he said.
Those actions went beyond the border of the United States.
"The reputation of the United States as an exporter of abortion was accurate under President Clinton and will again be accurate under President Obama. Not so for President Bush," he said.
CWA's Wendy Wright concluded her thoughts on Bush this way: "In the annals of history, George W. Bush will be remembered as a president who believed and fought to protect innocent human life. 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."
And, as Pavone noticed, President Bush truly believed in the cause of life.
"All of us who had the opportunity to speak with President Bush were struck by his sincerity and faith," he said.
"On one occasion, he pointed to the precious feet pin that a guest was wearing and said, 'We're going to win this battle,'" Pavone explained. "History will prove him right.
by Steven Ertelt
January 16, 2009