Congressmen Lobby to Overturn Bush Policy Against Intl. Abortion Funding

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 21, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Congressmen Lobby to Overturn Bush Policy Against Intl. Abortion Funding

by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 21, 2004

Washington, DC ( — A handful of abortion advocates in Congress have sent a letter to Secretary of State Collin Powell seeking a legal explanation for why President Bush has withheld taxpayer funding from the United Nation’s Population Fund (UNFPA).

In his first days in office, President Bush reinstated the Mexico City Policy created by Ronald Reagan. Under it, taxpayer dollars are prohibited from funding organizations that perform or promote abortions in other countries.

In September 2003, Bush expanded the policy by also preventing family planning grants from any State Department agency to pro-abortion groups. Previously the Mexico City Policy applied only to the USAID program.

As a result, taxpayer dollars were prohibited from going to UNFPA because of its involvement in China’s population control program, which includes forced abortions and sterilizations.

Also, earlier this month, the Bush administration announced that it would no longer provide funding to UNICEF’s joint programming with the UNFPA because of concerns the funds could not be kept separate and tracked to ensure they comply with the president’s executive order.

Pro-abortion Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and the three other lawmakers claim the pro-life policy "threatens funding" of the World Health Organization and UNICEF because they work with the UNFPA.

Maloney claims the Bush administration is putting women’s health at risk by defunding family planning programs "that should not be considered contentious," according to a New York Times report.

Maloney asked, "When will the president’s right wing be satisfied — when they close down the U.N.?"

As a result of the pro-life policy, the Bush administration withheld $34 million from the UNFPA in 2002 and the same amount last year. President Bush has until July 15 to make a decision about the 2004 funds and the letter was sent to persuade Bush to change his mind.

Maloney and abortion advocates also complained that the expanded Mexico City Policy stopped taxpayer funding of Marie Stopes International’s work to prevent AIDS. Marie Stopes is a British-based abortion business that also participated in a coalition of groups trying to prevent the spread of AIDS.

According to the Times, the Bush administration is also planning to ask Latin American countries to back off of support for a document hashed out at a recent population conference in Cuba, saying it could be interpreted as supporting legalizing abortion.

Most Latin American countries have resisted legalizing abortion, with the exception of Cuba. Legislators in Uruguay recently turned back an effort to make abortion legal in the South American nation.

In March, likely Democratic nominee John Kerry says the first action he will take as president is overturn the Mexico City Policy.

Former president Bill Clinton had canceled it during his eight years in office. President Reagan created it in 1984 and it had been in place until January 1993 when Clinton reversed it.