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December 29, 2000


Communications Department

National Abortion Federation Responds to Nomination of Gov. Tommy Thompson as Head of HHS and Former Senator Ashcroft as Attorney General

Professional Association of Abortion Providers Criticizes Bush for Pandering to Religious Right

Washington, DC -- The National Abortion Federation reacted strongly today to George W. Bush's nomination of Gov. Thompson to head the Department of Health and Human Services. "The head of the Department of Health and Human Services is the President's main advisor on national health care issues," said Vicki Saporta, Executive Director of the National Abortion Federation (NAF). "By nominating someone who is so clearly opposed to a woman's right to the full spectrum of reproductive health care choices, Bush has chosen to pander to the religious right at the expense of the nation's women and their families."

"Governor Thompson has one of the worst records of any U.S. governor when it comes to safeguarding women's reproductive health care," said Saporta. "During his tenure as governor of Wisconsin, he has signed numerous measures restricting the ability of women - in particular low-income women - to access safe abortion care." Since Thompson was elected governor in 1986, he supported restricting Medicaid funding for abortion and signed into law a bill prohibiting insurance provided through the Private Employer Health Care Purchasing Alliance from covering abortion except to protect the woman's life. He signed a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion, and a law requiring minors to obtain the consent of a parent before obtaining an abortion. He also signed legislation banning pre-viability, safe abortion procedures, similar to a Nebraska ban that was struck down by the Supreme Court this summer.

"Americans should be alarmed that George W. Bush has chosen two men with extreme anti-choice positions to head the two agencies that have the most direct impact on women's reproductive health care," continued Saporta. "Not only could Thompson be expected to restrict women's access to abortion care if confirmed, but former Senator Ashcroft would be in a position as Attorney General to profoundly affect the health and safety of the men and women who risk their lives to provide safe, legal abortion services to women." As the chief law enforcer in the country, the Attorney General oversees the Task Force on Violence Against Reproductive Health Care Providers, as well as ensures that the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act protects the rights of women and health care providers to safely enter clinics.

"We have serious concerns as to whether Ashcroft will fully enforce FACE, which acts a deterrent to violence. Ashcroft was among the most conservative members of the Senate, and has taken a position on the right to choose that is out of step with mainstream America. We've been collecting statistics on incidents of violence and harassment against abortion providers for more than twenty years, and we know that when the laws aren't fully enforced, violence increases. If Ashcroft is confirmed, we fear a potential uptick in the violence directed at abortion providers."

Saporta said, "During his campaign for President, George W. Bush stated repeatedly that he trusted the American people to make the decisions that have the greatest impact on their lives. His announcement today, combined with the selection of Ashcroft for Attorney General last week, sends a clear message that Bush does not trust Americans when it comes to their own private health care decisions. Today's announcement should serve as a wake-up call to all women and families that the right to choose will be imperiled if these two candidates are confirmed."


The National Abortion Federation is the professional association of abortion providers in the U.S. and Canada dedicated to ensuring that abortion remains safe, legal and accessible.

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