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Fitzwater Claims Sullivan Supportive of Bush on Abortion Issue

January 24, 1989

WASHINGTON (AP) _ White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater said today ″it can be assumed″ that Health and Human Services Secretary-designate Louis Sullivan would implement President Bush’s abortion policies if confirmed by the Senate.

″Dr. Sullivan has repeatedly said ... that his views are consistent with the president’s,″ Fitzwater said.

The spokesman was asked to comment on a published report which said Sullivan had been privately saying he does not want to see a reversal of the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. Bush wants it reversed.

Sullivan ″opposes public funding for abortions, but he does not want to overturn a woman’s right to make a choice,″ an unidentified senior Republican lawmaker told The New York Times.

Sullivan nearly lost his Cabinet nomination last month when he told an interviewer he personally favored a woman’s right to an abortion. He later issued a statement that echoed Bush’s opposition to abortion except in cases of rape, incest or if the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life.

During his White House briefing today, Fitzwater said Sullivan never had indicated to Bush any disagreement with Bush’s position on the abortion question.

″Dr. Sullivan is committed to the president’s positions,″ the spokesman said. ″It can be assumed that he will implement administration policy and the president’s views.″

″If Dr. Sullivan has other recommendations and views, we’ll be glad to listen to them,″ the spokesman said. ″But the president’s position on this matter is the one that will guide our decisions in the administration.″

In connection with demonstrations marking the 16th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision, police on Monday arrested 153 people. That came in one of the ″Operation Rescue″ protests outside a clinic in the city.

The March for Life event attracted some 67,000 people. It received a boost from Bush, who told the anti-abortionists by way of a telephone loudspeaker in a park near the White House that the decision ″was wrong and should be overturned.″

Vice President Dan Quayle met with Nellie Gray, the leader of the March for Life, and other anti-abortion leaders. ″I couldn’t think of a more appropriate group to be meeting with,″ he said.

District of Columbia police made the arrests outside the Hillcrest Women’s Center in northwest Washington and charged them with blocking access to the building or crossing police lines, said police spokesman Sgt. Joe Gentile.

Police said doors at the clinic were locked for about two and a half hours because of the protest.

In Glen Burnie, Md., the Gynecare Center closed after about 300 demonstrators gathered at the clinic entrance and refused to move, but no arrests were made, said Sgt. Joe Bisesi of the Anne Arundel County Police.

″We’ll stay as long as we have to,″ said demonstrator Kathy Kelly before the closing. ″We hope to keep this place safe for the day, which means no killing of babies and no exploitation of women.″

Both protests were organized by a group in suburban Gaithersburg, Md. known as ″Rachel’s Rescue,″ which is part of a national effort by abortion foes to use tactics of the 1960s civil rights movement to stop women from having abortions.

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