Colin Powell Steps Down as Secretary of State, Bush Policy Opposed Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 15, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Colin Powell Steps Down as Secretary of State, Bush Policy Opposed Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 15, 2004

Washington, DC ( — Colin Powell announced Monday that he would be stepping down as the Secretary of State, a move many political observers expected. During Powell’s tenure as the chief diplomat for President Bush, the Bush administration took a strong stand against abortion on an international scale.

Powell told his senior staff that he would stay on at the State Department until a replacement was confirmed. Officials there told CNN that the decision for Powell to leave was a mutual decision between the president and Powell.

During his first term, President Bush stockpiled a strong record against abortion an in international scale.

On his first day in office, the president signed an executive order reinstituting the Mexico City Policy, a measure that Presidents Reagan and Bush used previously to block taxpayer funding of groups that perform or promote abortions.

The pro-life policy, which covered the USAID program, was later expanded to include all State Department programs.

Meanwhile, for four years in a row, President Bush has blocked millions of taxpayer dollars from going to the United Nations Population Fund, because of the agency’s support for China’s population control program that involves forced abortions and sterilizations.

In October, the State Department announced that it would divert the fourth year of expected UNFPA money, some $34 million, to a U.S. program that provides health care for poor women and children in other countries and for a program that combats the sexual trafficking of women.

The Bush administration had previously sent officials from the State Department to review the situation in China and determine if the UNFPA is complicit in the coercive population control program.

After the fact-finding team returned, Secretary of State Colin Powell said China "has in place a regime of severe penalties on women who have unapproved births. This regime plainly operates to coerce pregnant women to have abortions in order to avoid the penalties and therefore amounts to a ‘program of coercive abortion.’"

"UNFPA’s support of, and involvement in, China’s population-planning activities allows the Chinese government to implement more effectively its program of coercive abortion," Secretary Powell explained. "Therefore, it is not permissible to continue funding UNFPA at this time."

The money blocked by the Bush administration represents about 11% of the agency’s $300 million budget, according to Sarah Craven, chief of UNFPA’s Washington office.

Last year, records from the State Department indicated that the UNFPA had been involved in coercive abortion and forced sterilization campaigns in other countries besides China. Reports implicated the U.N. agency in such actions in New Zealand and Peru.