The Center for Reproductive Law and Policy (CRLP) in New York City filed a lawsuit on June 6th against Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Andrew Natsios, new head of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Joining in the lawsuit were two other pro-abortion advocacy groups, Human Rights Watch and the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights.
President Clinton replaced the Mexico City policy, established by Ronald Reagan in 1984, with a policy funding organizations like Planned Parenthood who aggressively advocate abortion and contraception around the world as the cure to social ills.
What angers abortion advocates like Janet Benshoof, the president of CRLP, is that Bush’s executive order effectively negates the very mission of these population control organizations, which is to advocate “the idea that legal abortion is a human right for women around the world.”
The challenge now faced by these groups is to either find loopholes in the Mexico City Policy or to replace the lost government funding.
Whether or not this is an “infringement of the freedom of speech,” as Benshoof claims is open to dispute. It appears that she and other advocates of abortion can still make their arguments, but they will have to do so without cashing government checks to make their payroll and hold their conferences.
At its press conference announcing the lawsuit, the CRLP also referred to the president’s executive order as a “global gag rule.” It seems that these organizations were so well funded during Clinton’s two terms in office that they viewed their funding as an entitlement. No government is required to subsidize speech of any kind, and certainly not speech that falls outside of its stated policy aims.
In 1991, under then President George Bush, the principle of a “gag rule” was tested in the Supreme Court. In Rust v. Sullivan, the Court found that the government could place conditions limiting the speech of organizations receiving funding.
Under Title 10 of the Public Health Service Act, it was stated that no federal money could be given to “programs where abortion is a method of family planning.” The Bush administration interpreted that to mean including either the mention of abortion or referrals to abortion counselors.
The CRLP also argues that the Mexico City policy violates the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of association, freedom to petition the government for redress of grievances, and freedom of peaceable assembly. Once again, it appears abortion advocates are failing to distinguish between what they can do on their own money and what they can do with our – the American people’s – money.
Defenders of pro-abortion policy will say that since 1973 no U.S. tax dollars have directly paid for abortion, because it is against the law. This shouldn’t fool anyone – the millions of dollars put into so-called population and health organizations around the world fuels an ideological engine seeking to destroy the traditional family and promote a “woman’s right to choose” over the sanctity of human life.