NRL News
Page 28
March 2009
Volume 36
Issue 3

The Obama Abortion Agenda Begins
By Susan T. Muskett, J.D.

On January 23, just three days after taking office, President Barack Obama kicked off the beginning of the Obama abortion agenda with his presidential order directing federal funding to organizations that perform or promote abortion overseas. In doing so, he reversed a pro-life policy that had been in effect for the past eight years under the George W. Bush Administration, as well as under Presidents George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.

Called the “Mexico City Policy” because of where it was first announced in 1984, this pro-life policy was solely an eligibility criterion: only those organizations working overseas that agreed not to perform or promote abortion as a method of family planning were eligible for U.S. foreign aid funds for “population assistance” programs. The Mexico City Policy did not reduce the amount of U.S. funding spent on “population assistance.” Rather, it ensured that this funding did not go to groups that perform or promote abortion as a method of family planning.

Most Americans were not pleased with President Obama’s revocation of this pro-life policy, as evidenced by a Gallup poll taken a week afterwards that confirmed that 58% of Americans disapproved of his action, with only 35% approving of it.

But one organization that is pleased with Obama’s revocation of the Mexico City Policy is the London-based International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). IPPF estimates that it lost at least $100 million under the recent Bush Administration due to the Mexico City Policy.

IPPF is one of the most militant promoters of abortion worldwide. One of its stated goals is “to make abortion legal and safe everywhere.” One by one, the pro-life laws of other countries are being challenged and abortion legalized through the work of IPPF and its member associations..

Portugal is one such country. After a long period of advocacy by IPPF’s member association in Portugal, a referendum to liberalize the country’s abortion law was approved by a majority of those casting ballots in 2007. IPPF reports that whereas under the prior law “abortions were only allowed .... in cases of rape, a threat to the health of the mother or serious foetal abnormality,” the referendum allowed “all women to seek abortion services on demand until the 10th week of pregnancy” (emphasis added).

Lest there be any doubt as to the key role that the IPPF member association, APF, played in the referendum, IPPF’s European Network boasts that “[t]he Executive Director of APF received a call from the Prime Minister of Portugal himself congratulating APF for their lead role in the referendum campaign.” This liberalization of Portugal’s abortion law was ratified by the parliament in 2007, making it the new law of the land.

Or take Ethiopia. IPPF recounts that prior to 2006, abortions were only allowed in Ethiopia to protect the life of the mother. IPPF proudly reports that due to the advocacy of IPPF’s Ethiopian member association and others, abortions can now be performed in a variety of circumstances, including “when the woman has physical or mental disabilities, or when a minor is physically or psychologically unprepared to raise a child” (emphasis added).

In Nepal, it took a 20-year-plus “comprehensive campaign” by IPPF’s member association for abortion to be legalized in 2002. This campaign is spelled out in great detail on the IPPF web site, along with the complaint that as a result of this work, the member association lost “significant funding from the US government” under the Mexico City Policy.

The member association’s campaign of “national and international workshops, lobbying, awareness raising and the building of partnerships” is credited with contributing towards passage of the new liberalized abortion law, which is described as allowing abortions “at any time during the pregnancy if the physical and mental health of the mother is at risk,” as well as under other circumstances (emphasis added).

Colombia, Mexico, Togo, and South Africa are other countries where IPPF takes credit for it or its member association having played a role in achieving abortion law changes.

But IPPF’s crusade to make abortion legal “everywhere” doesn’t stop there. In 2005, the Irish Family Planning Association (an IPPF member association) issued a press release announcing the launch of “a major campaign for the introduction of legal abortion services in Ireland.” Called the “Safe and Legal in Ireland” campaign, the press release announced that it would “comprise a range of activities, including a legal initiative to challenge the status quo on abortion; a political lobbying campaign and sustained programme of national and international advocacy.”

IPPF or its member associations have also advocated for the liberalization of abortion laws in other countries, including Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Namibia, Mauritius, and Kenya.

Now with President Obama having overturned the Mexico City Policy, we can only expect a dramatic increase in this activity. In 2006, IPPF reported that its member associations were “adopting more proactive advocacy strategies” with their aim being “to protect existing liberal laws, and to make abortion safe and legal everywhere.”

And now, with this new access to this large pot of federal money—which currently stands at $461 million per year, but which pro-abortion advocacy groups hope to see doubled to $1 billion this year—IPPF and its member associations will soon likely be well bolstered.

Marie Stopes International (MSI) is another international promoter of abortion that has applauded the revocation of the Mexico City Policy. MSI refused to comply with the Mexico City Policy and was denied funding as a result, but now it also will be eligible to access this large pot of taxpayer dollars.

MSI advocates for “universal access to legal and safe abortion,” and is spearheading a “Global Call to Action for Women’s Access to Safe Abortion,” which demands that women everywhere have “full access to legal, voluntary, safe, and affordable abortions.”

MSI is also an abortion provider. Having provided 430,000 abortions worldwide in 2007, MSI’s goal is to provide 1 million abortions each year by 2010.

And so the Obama abortion agenda begins. An agenda whose impact will be felt not only here in America, but around the world.

Susan T. Muskett  is senior legislative counsel for the National Right to Life Committee.