VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., April 18 -- Pat Robertson, a leader of the national anti-abortion movement, has issued a statement expressing his strong opposition to forced abortions performed on women in China -- a day after making comments that infuriated other Christian conservatives.

Robertson released the statement Tuesday to clarify remarks he made in an interview broadcast Monday night on CNN's ``Wolf Blitzer Reports.''

Referring to Beijing's "forced-abortions" policy deployed to limit family size, Robertson said in the interview that Chinese leaders are ``doing what they have to do'' to control population growth, and that the United States should not interfere.

``If every family over there was allowed to have three or four children, the population would be completely unsustainable,'' Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition, said in the interview.

Robertson appeared to voice more concern with the threat to "racial purity" resulting from the forced-abortion policy than to the policy itself.

"It's going to be a demographic catastrophe," he said. "When they're having abortions, they're picking the girl babies for the slaughter, and they're allowing only the males to be born. And in another, say, 10 or 20 years, there's going to be a critical shortage of wives. The young men won't have any women to marry. So it will, in a sense, dilute the -- what they consider -- the racial purity of the Han Chinese. And that to them will be a great tragedy because then they will have to be importing wives from Indonesia and other countries in order to fill up the population."

In his statement Tuesday, Robertson said he regrets that his unrehearsed comments ``were not spoken with sufficient clarity to communicate my lifelong opposition to voluntary and forced abortion as a means of population control.'' The clarification did little to calm some of Robertson's critics from among his allies on the religious right.

"It's a clarification that doesn't clarify," said Charles A. Donovan, executive vice president of the Family Research Council, told the Washington Post. "I'm saddened and surprised. This policy [of forced abortion] doesn't need comfort, and it certainly doesn't need comfort from a Christian and a conservative."

Marshall Wittmann, who ran the Washington office of the Christian Coalition for Robertson and is now with the capital's conservative Hudson Institute, told the Post that Robertman's remarks would only add to the Christian Coalition's current difficulties, which includes a recent racial bias suit filed by black employees at the organization's Washington office, ongoing financial woes and eroding influence.

"The Christian Coalition was already on life-support. Robertson's remarks probably mean its demise. The difficulty here is who is going to be the moral leader for religious conservatism," Whittman told the newspaper.

However, the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, told the Post: "A famous politician, Al Smith, who ran for president and was governor of New York, once said, 'Anyway you slice it, it's still baloney.' Abortion is a taking of life. We must protect life, and I'm certainly sure that Pat will come down on that side of the issue."

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