Another Good Beginning

Ken AshfordObama & Administration, Women's IssuesLeave a Comment

Obama reversed the gag rule:

THIS WEEK marks the 20th anniversary of a profound and misguided change in US foreign policy: the Reagan administration's "global gag rule," which was first announced at an international family planning conference in Mexico City in August 1984.

The "Mexico City" policy prohibits US dollars and contraceptive supplies from going to any international family planning program that provides abortions or counsels women about their reproductive health options.

The problem with the "gag rule" of course is that most family planning programs abroad, like the ones here, provide all kinds of health services to women — not just abortions.  In fact, for most international family planning facilities, abortion represents a small fraction of the services provided.

The policy isn't about money going to pay for abortions. Even those groups that use only private funds for abortion services — where abortion is legal — are barred from assistance. This is money going to family planning programs.

And what has been the consequence?

In Kenya, for example, two of the leading family planning organizations have been forced to shut down five clinics dispensing aid from prenatal care and vaccinations to malaria screening and AIDS prevention. Kenya's experience is common, according to "Access Denied," a report on the impact of the global gag rule on developing nations. Researchers found that programs for rural communities and urban slums have been scaled back by as much as 50 percent. As a result more women are turning to unsafe abortion — a leading cause of death for young women in much of Africa — because they lack access to family planning information and essential contraceptive supplies.

In other words, better to have people dies from malaria and AIDS rather than destroying fetuses.  So much for the "culture of life".