Bush Imposes Gag Rule

Essay by Laska_plHigh School, 12th gradeA+, October 2004

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On January 25, 2001, on his first business day in office (and the 28th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision establishing a woman's right to an abortion), President George W. Bush stupidly re-imposed the Global Gag Rule on the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) population program. This policy restricts foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that receive USAID family planning funds from using their own, non-U.S. funds to provide legal abortion services, lobby their own governments for abortion law reform, or even provide accurate medical counseling or referrals regarding abortion. See what damage he is doing! The 1973 Helms Amendment is a legislative provision that already restricts U.S. funds from being used for these activities, but Bush had to get involved for political purposes.

About 2 million women die every year from unsafe abortions, a statistic that could be virtually eliminated by the provision of appropriate health information and services and law reform efforts.

Despite this, President Bush's Executive Memorandum directs USAID "to reinstate in full all of the requirements of the Mexico City Policy in effect on January 19, 1993." According to this policy, foreign organizations--often the only health care providers in remote, rural areas--are prohibited from using their own, non-U.S. funds for:

* providing legal abortions even, can you believe, where a woman's physical or mental health is endangered (the only exceptions are in cases of rape, incest, or where the woman's life is endangered);

* providing advice and information regarding the availability and benefits of abortion and from providing referrals to another health clinic;

* lobbying their own governments to legalize abortion, to maintain current law and oppose restrictions, or to decriminalize abortion; and

* conducting public education campaigns regarding abortion.

In addition, even the provision of services that are "permitted"1 on paper,