WASHINGTON, DC --(AP story from Pro-Life Infonet) As his prospects for confirmation as attorney general
improved, John Ashcroft continued Wednesday to answer harsh questions and
respond to critical statements from pro-abortion members of the Senate
Ashcroft picked up his first Democratic vote when pro-abortion Sen. Zell
Miller of Georgia announced his support. Other Democrats on the Judiciary
Committee predicted Ashcroft's confirmation in the evenly divided Senate.
Under detailed questioning by skeptical pro-abortion Democrats, the former
Missouri senator reaffirmed his personal opposition to abortion. But he
emphasized that he had no intention of attempting to get the high court to
reverse the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision, which he once
called ``a miserable failure.''
``The Supreme Court very clearly doesn't want to deal with that issue
again,'' Ashcroft said, adding that pressing the matter would risk
undermining the ``standing and prestige'' an administration has in
arguments before the high court.
With a long line of pro-abortion groups waiting to testify against
Ashcroft later in the week, there were favorable signs for him as he
completed his testimony during the second day of his confirmation
In the hearing, both pro-abortion Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) and pro-abortion
Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) said Ashcroft probably would be confirmed. So far
only pro-abortion Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is openly committed to
opposing him. To block him in a Senate split 50-50, Democrats would need
help from Republicans.
But Ashcroft made visible progress -- even among pro-abortion
Republicans. One, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, seemed pleased with
Ashcroft's answers to his mild line of questioning.
Another, Susan Collins of Maine, acting at the request of President-elect
Bush's transition team, appeared as a witness to heartily endorse
Ashcroft. Asked if her testimony before the Judiciary Committee was a
message on behalf of Republican moderates, the Maine senator said in an
interview, ``Yes, I think it was.'' Collins said she is ``strongly
pro-choice'' and added that, ``John and I, our voting records are probably
as different as they could be within the Republican caucus.''
``There's no question'' that Collins sent a strong signal to opponents
that they would fail, said pro-life Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who will take
over as committee chairman on Saturday after President-elect Bush is sworn
in. ``Here's a pro-choice woman senator who says he will enforce the
Republican leader Trent Lott predicts all 50 GOP senators will back
Some Democrats expressed new doubts about Ashcroft. ``I see a kind of
metamorphosis going on. ... Somebody who has been really on the far right
... is now making a change,'' said Diane Feinstein of California.
``Frankly, I don't know what to believe.''
In response to questions from abortion advocates, Ashcroft would not give
pro-abortion Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) a legal opinion on whether the
Roe decision would allow research taken from stem cells of aborted
children, an operation opposed by pro-life advocates.
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