Apr 042005
 
Authors: Hallie Woods

When President. Bush reinstated the Global Gag Rule in 2001, it reopened debate on a policy that continues to be controversial today.

People all over the world are still protesting or supporting Bush's Global Gag Rule, which prohibits foreign family-planning organizations that receive U.S. funding from providing abortions, counseling about abortions, referring patients to other abortion clinics or lobbying to make or keep abortion legal in their own country.

Originally passed by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, former President Bill Clinton revoked the Global Gag Rule in 1993. When President Bush came to office, he reinstated the rule, adding further restrictions. Bush included an additional rule prohibiting organizations from lobbying to make or keep abortion legal in their home countries.

"Originally it was called the Mexico City Policy because it was adopted in Mexico City where Reagan announced the decision to withhold funding," said Daniel Kessler, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood. "Bush reinstated the rule in 2001 and added the restriction prohibiting lobbying to make or keep abortion legal."

The Global Gag Rule "requires non-governmental organizations to agree as a condition of their receipt of federal funds that such organizations would neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations," according to www.whitehouse.gov.

"I think it's oppressive. With contraceptives there is a margin of error and those who do not have access to contraceptives," said freshman open-option major Jenn Taussia. "Abortions should be handled legally and safely."

Planned Parenthood's Web site, www.plannedparenthood.com, states that Bush's Gag Rule has implications in countries all over the world. In Congo, the Association Congolaise pour le Bien-�tre Familial recently lost $17,000 in U.S. assistance, eliminating help for 15,739 clients.

In Cameroon, the Cameroon National Association for Family Welfare lost funding and was forced to shut down a youth center and several family-planning branches where HIV/AIDS prevention programs are taught to young people. This occurred in the Northern Province where 9 percent of the inhabitants are infected with HIV/AIDS and in the Western Province where 6 percent live under the same conditions.

"It is hard to estimate how many people are directly affected by this or die because of lack of family planning," Kessler said. "When a family-planning center closes, people no longer (have) access (to) contraceptives, causing them to be at risk for STDs and unwanted (pregnancies)."

With consequences such as these, Planned Parenthood and abortion rights advocates wish to bring attention to Bush's actions.

"These restrictions defy medical ethics, which dictate that doctors must share every medical option available," Kessler said. "A policy like this in the United States that would restrict doctor-patient communication would be intolerable."

From a different perspective, the National Right to Life Committee's Web site, www.nrlc.org, shows that Bush's rule protects the lives of unborn children in countries in Africa, Latin America and other developing nations. The site states that the rule "has no effect whatever on the overall level of funding for the 'population assistance' program, because when a group declines to accept funds because of the pro-life policy, those funds are directed to another group willing to avoid abortion-promoting activities."

"The United States, as an affluent country, shouldn't promote the killing of unborn children in poorer countries," said Rosemary Van Gorder, president of the Larimer County chapter of Right to Life. "We should instead fund pre- and postnatal care for women in these countries who need practical health care."

During Silent Solidarity on Wednesday Pro-Choice CSU and Planned Parenthood chose to support those who are affected by the Global Gag Rule as their particular cause. Anti-abortion supporters chose to be silenced for all the unborn babies who cannot speak out for themselves.

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