Bush appoints pro-lifer to UN
John C. Danforth, a well-known opponent of abortion, was recently nominated by President George Bush to be the United States ambassador to the United Nations. A former Republican senator from Missouri with a nearly impeccable pro-life voting record, Danforth retired from the Senate in 1995 after 18 years of service. He has acted as Bush's special envoy to Sudan for the past three years.
Danforth accumulated a strong pro-life voting record during his tenure in Congress, receiving high marks from the National Right to Life Committee and obtaining a nearly perfect pro-life voting record. He opposed taxpayer funding of abortions - including sending taxpayer money to groups that commit abortions in other countries or lobby other nations and the United Nations to make abortion legal worldwide.
Danforth also co-sponsored a human life amendment to the Constitution to guarantee legal protection to unborn children and overturn the 1972 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. In 1991, Danforth led the battle to confirm pro-life Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
During his tenure as attorney-general in Missouri before becoming senator, Danforth fought courageously for pro-life causes, declaring that "abortion is the taking of a life and, as such, is morally wrong … It is never a permissible exercise of human freedom … to kill what annoys us and what causes us trouble."
"It is important to uphold the dignity of the unborn at the international level. Bush's policy so far has been strongly pro-life and having an ambassador of the same mind would be invaluable," said Samantha Singson, Canadian Campaign Life Coalition's international affairs representative.
However, Danforth's record is not entirely without controversy. Some conservatives regard him as too moderate, with one foreign policy expert at a conservative think tank dismissing him as "a Democrat." He was in fact once quoted as saying he joined the Republican party for "the same reason you sometimes choose which movie to see - the one with the shortest line." He has been criticized for breaking ranks with Republican leaders in opposing mandatory school prayer. He also upset the National Right to Life Committee and the pro-life community by voting for a bill limiting protests outside freestanding abortuaries.
However, liberals oppose Danforth. Law professor Marjorie Cohn claimed that Danforth is a "right-wing zealot in moderate's clothing."
Danforth has raised eyebrows recently by supporting the use of fetal tissue from abortions in research. In an op-ed piece in the St. Louis Dispatch, he urged lawmakers to scrap legislation that would "criminalize stem-cell regeneration research."
The controversy centres on the definition of human life. Proponents of the procedure say - in the words of Danforth - that it simply produces a "collection of stem cells, smaller than the head of a pin, never fertilized by sperm and never implanted into a uterus."
Known for his even temperament, ability to inspire confidence in others and trustworthiness, Danforth is a married Episcopal minister with five children.