Bush Orders State Department To Stop Funding Foreign Abortion Groups
In yet a further illustration of the Bush administration’s efforts to promote an international culture of life, President Bush this week issued an executive order that restricts the State Department from funding groups that perform or promote abortions overseas. Specifically, the order seeks to extend what is called the Mexico City Policy, which previously applied only to the US Agency for International Development (USAID), to the State Department.
The Mexico City Policy was first enacted by an executive order of President Reagan at a population conference in 1984, and it forbade USAID from granting family planning funds to foreign abortion providers or promoters. The policy was rescinded by President Clinton on his first day in office, and later reinstated as one of President’s Bush’s first official acts.
Through reinstatement, President Bush hoped to eliminate any US taxpayer funding for overseas abortions. However, it soon became apparent that the Mexico City Policy as previously written was no longer adequate for this purpose, since the State Department now spends ever-larger sums on international family planning programs. For instance, the State Department provides about $40 million to family planning programs for refugees every year. Thus, the Bush administration decided that the Mexico City Policy had to be applied to the State Department as well as to USAID.
This decision has been met with fierce criticism. According to Gloria Feldt, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, “The world’s poorest women and their children again are bearing the brunt of Bush’s obsession with appeasing his domestic political base. This is the real face of Bush’s compassionate conservatism.” David Seldin, spokesman for NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League) Pro Choice America, said that the order is “clearly yet another sign” of Bush “putting the absolute commitment to ideological purity ahead of programs that can prevent literally millions of unintended pregnancies.”
The move was praised, however, by pro-life advocates. A high-ranking congressional staffer told the Friday Fax that “President Bush’s willingness to continue to create a culture of life is an encouragement to us and to the millions of Americans who do not want their taxpayer dollars to subsidize abortions.” The staffer also said that it was heartening to see President Bush endure such harsh criticism to ensure that his policies were applied consistently within the US government.
The President’s executive order does not apply to HIV/AIDS programs, although Feldt still charged that it “condemns the world’s mostvulnerable women, who will be denied prevention services like HIV.”
The order follows on the heels of Secretary of State Colin Powell’s decision, announced last week, to withdraw Marie Stopes International (MSI) from a State Department-sponsored HIV/AIDS program in Africa. That decision was based upon MSI’s work in China with the UN Population Fund,which the State Department has determined supports the Chinese governmentin its program of coercive abortions. Taken together, these actions seemto signal Administration success in transforming the State Department.
Copyright – C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute). Permission granted for unlimited use. Credit required.
2003 Meridian Magazine. All Rights Reserved.