President Bush Halts International Family Planning Funds
In his "first substantive action" in office, President George W. Bush yesterday reversed a Clinton policy allowing the use of federal funds for family planning services abroad, the Washington Post reports. White House aides say this move is the "first in a string of actions undoing Clinton policies" (Allen, Washington Post, 1/23). Federal funds have been prohibited from going toward abortion services overseas since the 1973 Helms Amendment; the current move denies family planning aid to international organizations that use their own funds to provide abortion counseling or services (USAID "Commonly Asked Questions," 1/23). In an executive memorandum to USAID, which is responsible for allocating foreign aid, Bush said, "It is my conviction that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortions or advocate or actively promote abortion, either here or abroad" (Washington Post, 1/23). Bush's action "reinstates" a Reagan policy first adapted in the 1980s during a Mexico City population conference, a policy former President Bush upheld during his term in office (Cummings, Wall Street Journal, 1/23). In 1993, Clinton overturned what family planning advocates call the "global gag" rule. In 1999 Clinton had "reluctantly" agreed to restore the restrictions through the FY 2000 Foreign Operations bill for one year in exchange for a Republican agreement to pay back dues to the United Nations. With Clinton's approval, these international family planning funding restrictions were removed from the FY 2001 Foreign Operations bill, setting the stage for President Bush to reinstitute the restrictions through an executive order (Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 11/7/00).