As everyone who is paying any attention to such issues knows by now, on Friday, January 24th, President Obama signed an executive order reversing the ban that prohibited funding to international family planning groups that provide abortions. The ban got its name when it was introduced by the administration of Ronald Reagan in 1984 in Mexico City. It had been overturned by President Clinton in 1993 and restored by President Bush at the beginning of his administration in 2001.
Abortion proponents had been looking forward to this for a long time. They call the Mexico City Policy the “Global Gag Rule” since it prevents them from offering women the alternative of abortion as a “family planning” option and it keeps organizations that receive federal funding from attempting to influence the laws and policies of foreign governments to allow greater access to abortion.
Pro-lifers saw the policy as preventing the unwarranted intrusion of American abortion proponents in other countries, often in a manner that disrespects their cultures’ attitudes toward life, family matters, and childbirth. Since pro-lifers were marching in Washington on Thursday, January 23th, President Obama waited until Friday to sign the order. Ostensibly this was to show that he did not want to be “confrontational” with pro-lifers who were somehow supposed to be mollified over their tax dollars being spent to fund the international baby-killing cartel due to the respect and consideration shown to them by not signing the order on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. This is to be expected. Symbolic “non-confrontation” with pro-lifers is now married to substantive, aggressive, pro-abortion actions. If this plays fast and loose with any real conception of what “non-confrontational” actually means, that is to be expected also, because distorting the clear meaning of words has been part and parcel of the culture of death since, well… since the Garden of Eden.
None of this was unexpected. The overturning of the Mexico City Policy was an established part of the Obama administration’s transition agenda, just as it was part of Candidate Obama’s stated intentions long before he was elected.
What was unexpected though was this statement from the USCCB:
It is very disappointing that President Obama has reversed the Mexico City Policy, which prevents U.S. funding of organizations that perform and promote abortion as a family planning method in developing nations. An Administration that wants to reduce abortions should not divert U.S. funds to groups that promote abortions — Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
To be disappointed is to expect one thing and get another: if someone accepts your invitation to come for dinner and he misses the appointment, then you are dis-appointed, because something that you had every reason to expect did not occur. But, when something that you have every reason to expect does occur, that is not a disappointment.
From the use of “disappointing” we could infer that the bishops may have been expecting something different. If that is the case, they owe the faithful an explanation of why they were entertaining that expectation. Otherwise it means nothing like what “disappointing” means in the ordinary usage of honest, plain-spoken people.
There have been many times when Cardinal Rigali has spoken clearly. In his message for Respect Life Month last October, he referred to FOCA as something “we cannot allow [to] happen” and that “[w]e cannot tolerate.”
During the Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, January 21, 2009, he offered rousing encouragement to the throngs getting ready to participate in the March for Life:
Political pundits have said that the pro-life movement is now history. Actually, they say this every few years, back to 1973. They imply that pro-lifers should just pack up and go home. Yet you do not look to me as though you are heading home. You look to me like a multitude of witnesses, a great multitude of pro-life witnesses, ready to uplift the world from the despair of the culture of death to enthrone in it the hope of a culture of life.
There are a lot of words that could have been used to describe the overturning of the Mexico City Policy. There are a lot of good, strong English words whose clear meaning would unequivocally convey the opinion of the bishops that this is a despicable act of aggression against the poor of the world — if that is their opinion. Or that it is a heinous assault against the consciences of the majority of Americans who do not share the agenda of unlimited abortion license being promoted abroad using their hard-earned tax dollars — if that is their opinion.
As for the statement that was made, it can only be described as… disappointing.