Pro-lifers denounce new President’s bailout of US aid groups promoting abortions in other countries.
By Chaz Muth
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Pro-life activists quickly denounced President Barack Obama’s January 23 signing of an executive order reversing the Mexico City policy, a move that clears the way for the federal government to provide aid to programs that promote or perform abortion overseas.
“It is clear that the provisions of the Mexico City policy are unnecessarily broad and unwarranted under current law, and for the past eight years they have undermined efforts to promote safe and effective voluntary family planning in developing countries,” Obama said.
He made the comments in a prepared statement on January 23, issued shortly after he signed an executive order reversing the ban first instituted by President Ronald Reagan in 1984.
“For these reasons,” he continued, “it is right for us to rescind this policy and restore critical efforts to protect and empower women and promote global economic development.”
Obama signed the order with no fanfare and with no news media in the room, a marked contrast to signings of executive orders earlier that week.
Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chairman of the US bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, called the reversal “very disappointing.”
“An administration that wants to reduce abortions should not divert US funds to groups that promote abortions,” Cardinal Rigali said.
“What a terrible way to begin a new administration, with an abortion business bailout that will exploit women in developing countries for political ends,” said Charmaine Yoest, president of the Washington-based Americans United for Life Action.
“We should not export the tragedy of abortion to other nations, and we certainly shouldn’t do so via the hard-earned dollars of American taxpayers,” she said. The policy banned US taxpayer money, usually in the form of funds from the US Agency for International Development, from going to international family planning groups that either offer abortions or provide information, counselling or referrals about abortion.
A federal law known as the Hyde amendment prohibits US funding from being used directly to provide abortions.
The Mexico City policy was reversed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and re-established under President George W Bush in 2001.
It is known as the Mexico City policy because it was unveiled at a UN conference there in 1984.
Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, president of the conference, had urged Obama shortly before his inauguration not to reverse the Mexico City policy.
News of the executive order also drew strong public criticism from Priests for Life, a group that calls itself the largest US Catholic pro-life organisation dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia.
“Here we have a black president taking money from the taxpayers in a time of economic crisis and giving it to organisations – many of which are anti-Catholic – so they can spend it on killing nonwhite babies in Third World nations,” said Bill Donohue, president of the New York-based Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
“This move is a significant step backward in respecting the sovereignty of nations, in empowering women and in protecting the unborn,” said Denise Burke, vice president of legal affairs for Americans United for Life Action.
“Pro-abortion organisations like the International Planned Parenthood Federation are actively working to impose radically pro-abortion laws on developing nations, showing no regard for the will of the people in these countries,” she said.
After signing the executive order, Obama said he planned to work with both sides on the issue of abortion to find a compromise.
“It is time that we end the politicisation of this issue,” he said. “In the coming weeks, my administration will initiate a fresh conversation on family planning, working to find areas of common ground to best meet the needs of women and families at home and around the world.”