Vice President Dan Quayle assured anti-abortion leaders Monday that the Bush administration shares their desire to overturn the landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.
"We have a lot of crusades," Quayle said, noting that "I have been involved with a lot of people in my state (Indiana) on this issue. I couldn't think of a more appropriate group to be meeting with."Shortly before the meeting in the Old Executive Office Building, anti-abortion leaders called for a national prayer crusade. That came as thousands of demonstrators converged on the capital to culminate a series of nationwide protests against the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973.
John C. Willke, president of the National Right to Life Committee, told reporters before a noon rally that a non-sectarian campaign of prayer is needed "to help stop today's holocaust."
Willke gave no details, saying individuals will have to work out what is comfortable for them.
"All we can do is plant a seed and call for it," he said. "But I see tens of thousands of pastors . . . tens of thousands points of light on a prayer crusade."
Quayle said he was delighted to sit down "with various constituencies interested in the preservation of life."
When a reporter asked whether the Bush administration could succeed in getting the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision reversed, Quayle replied, "Time will tell. We have the same commitment." He said it was important that someone stand up and speak for "those people who are not yet born."
White House chief of staff John Sununu accompanied Quayle to the meeting, and the vice president said Sununu was there because he wanted to hear the visitors' views.
President Bush was to speak to the demonstrators via telephone hookup at a noontime rally. Former President Reagan followed that practice in past years.
The rally on the Ellipse, south of the White House, also was to include speeches by Sen. Gordon J. Humphrey, R-N.H., and Reps. Robert K. Dornan, R-Calif., and Christopher Smith, R-N.J.
61% support right
On the eve of a massive protest marking the 16th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark ruling legalizing abortion, a poll Sunday showed most Americans support women's right to have abortions.
Sixty-one percent of the 1,533 adults surveyed in The New York Times-CBS Newspoll supported abortion rights under any circumstances. The poll was published Sunday in the Times on the anniversary of the Jan. 22, 1973, ruling in Roe vs. Wade.