Plans by the lay Catholic business group Legatus to honor the former president for his pro-life activities at its annual summit this weekend in Orange County, Calif., have drawn protests from critics who say the label should mean more than simply opposition to abortion.

"It's an Orwellian irony because Bush has caused so many deaths with an illegal war," activist Sharon Tipton told the Orange County Register. Her Orange County Peace Coalition planned to protest outside the resort where the former president is to appear Friday.

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Legatus executive director John Hunt said Bush is "very deserving" of the Cardinal John J. O'Connor Pro-Life Award.

"You could argue that he was the most pro-life president in our lifetime," he told Zenit. "He is very deserving, and since he is coming to us, we wanted to use this as an opportunity to tell him in a very specific and tangible way how appreciative we are."

John Gehring of the social justice-oriented lay group Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good said the award "raises an essential question that should challenge both political parties and underscores the limits of labels: What does it mean to be pro-life?"

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