Clinton plan is to act fast on abortion Counseling, import of drug to be OK'd

January 17, 1993|By Gwen Ifill | Gwen Ifill,New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- President-elect Bill Clinton intends to mar his first days in office by signing executive orders to lift the prohibition on abortion counseling in federally financed clinics and to allow Americans to import the French abortion drug RU-486.

Aides to the president-elect said Mr. Clinton was being urged to take the actions Friday, the 20th anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision, Roe vs. Wade, that made abortion a constitutional right.

The aides hope that Mr. Clinton's actions will reverse the impression that he has been retreating from promises he made in the campaign, including a middle-class tax cut and reversing the Bush administration's position on the handling of Haitian refugees.

Throughout his campaign, Mr. Clinton cited the ban on abortion counseling as an example of a regulation he would eliminate if elected.

He has also said he would lift the Bush administration's ban on using fetal tissue for medical research, but it was not clear whether that would be in the first round of orders.

"He always said he would take action immediately," said Dee Dee Myers, Mr. Clinton's press secretary. But she cautioned that no final decision had been made about the timing of any announcement on abortion.

Abortion-rights groups, who enthusiastically supported Mr. Clinton's election, had urged the incoming president to use the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision to take strong action on abortion rights.

Mr. Clinton has said he will work with Congress to pass and sign other abortion-rights legislation, including measures that have stalled in Congress or been vetoed by Mr. Bush as part of comprehensive packages on women's health care.

The manufacturer of the French pill, Roussel-Uclaf, has not sought to license a U.S. company to make and sell RU-486 here. Major companies fear boycotts by abortion opponents that could hurt other aspects of their business.

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