January 19, 2001
volume 12, no. 19
Ashcroft Nomination Hearings Continue

    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 Judiciary Committee.

    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 hearings.

    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 laws.''

    Republican leader Trent Lott predicts all 50 GOP senators will back Ashcroft.

    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.

For other news stories, see

January 19, 2001
volume 12, no. 19
DAILY News regarding the Sanctity of Life

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