Vice President Dick Cheney (search) reaffirmed the Bush administration's staunch opposition to abortion Tuesday, saying the issue was a nonpartisan question of protecting the "weakest members of our society."

"It doesn't matter if you're Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, male or female, black or white, ... north or south, east or west, all that matters is your respect for the claim of every life," Cheney said in a 10-minute speech to the National Right to Life Committee Educational Trust Fund (search).

"To be part of this cause is to believe that every mother carrying a life, that every child waiting to be born deserves understanding," he said.

Cheney's remarks come as abortion rights advocates plan a protest rally Sunday that they hope will fuel voter anger at President Bush and his anti-abortion platform.

Bush supports abortion only in cases of rape or incest when a woman's life is endangered. He also signed two pieces of legislation since November designed to restrict a procedure critics call "partial-birth abortions" and endow legal rights to an embryo or fetus distinct from the mother.

Bush's Democratic rival, Sen. John Kerry (search) of Massachusetts, voted against the partial-birth ban and said he would nominate only Supreme Court justices who support abortion rights.

In his speech, Cheney praised the two pieces of anti-abortion legislation as "historic action" to extend protections to the "weakest members of our society" and reaffirmed the administration's opposition to cloning.

He vowed that the Bush administration would "confidently and vigorously" defend the partial-birth ban.

"President Bush has often expressed his commitment that in a compassionate society, every child be welcomed in life," Cheney said. "America still has some distance to travel before that hope is realized."