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First day in office
January 22, 2001 9:32 AM   Subscribe

First day in office and this is what we get. Dubya cuts off U.S. funds to international family-planning groups offering abortion and abortion counseling. Why do I get the feeling this is only a calm before the storm?
posted by NickBarat (68 comments total)

 
Freedom of speech, you'll be the next to go...
posted by owillis at 9:34 AM on January 22, 2001


Or to put it another way: Why on earth was I paying for foreign abortions?
I have no problem with abortion–it makes a lot of sense, but I don't think the government should be paying for them here, much less elsewhere. If the president tries to make it illegal here, lets burn down the White House, until then, this is no big deal.
Keep your laws, and my taxdollars off women's bodies.
posted by thirteen at 9:45 AM on January 22, 2001


Yeah, the fact that people are allowed to have abortions doesn't entitle them to the right to have it paid for. If people want to bang eachother, then they ought to pay for the consequences in some way, if it isn't raising a human being for 18+ years
posted by jpate at 9:49 AM on January 22, 2001


To say that you're paying for foreign abortions is a gross simplification of reality. NickBarat has it right when he says family-planning groups offering abortion and [or] abortion counseling. That means organizations can't even talk about abortion as an option if they want U.S. aid.
posted by owen at 9:54 AM on January 22, 2001


Also, these groups include the Red Cross, and Doctors Without Borders. Does this mean he is cutting funding to the Red Cross?
posted by kristin at 9:55 AM on January 22, 2001


What a wonderful way to save money. Rather than cutting funds to our insanely inflated military, take medical care away from poor people. I'm liking this Bush fella already.
posted by Doug at 9:56 AM on January 22, 2001


BushFilter?
posted by hijinx at 9:57 AM on January 22, 2001


There is no more logical reason for the federal government to pay for abortions than there is for them to pay for any other elective medical prodecure. Why not free face lifts and tummy tucks? Teeth-whitening for the people! And there's no reason, logical or otherwise, to be paying for it outside our borders.

And as the article notes, these abortion funds were cut off under Reagan and Bush père as well, and as we can all see, the planet did not implode.

By the way, this is Bush's third day in office. Hyperbole is fine, but keep the math straight, 'kay?
posted by aaron at 9:57 AM on January 22, 2001



Didn't you guys read the article? "Current law bans the use of U.S. funds for any abortions in foreign countries." It's already illegal for the U.S government to pay for abortions.

Bush killed funding to groups that use their own money to support abortion. And remember, these aren't just Abortions 'R' Us clinics. They're agencies that primarily offer birth control, medical checkups, HIV/AIDS testing, and family planning education. Cutting off funding to agencies like these is wrong.
posted by waxpancake at 10:10 AM on January 22, 2001


Money is fungible; a US government dollar spent on birth control counseling is a private dollar which can be spent on abortions ... which is exactly one of the arguments liberals use in opposing vouchers to fund education at religiously-sponsored school in the US (a government dollar spent teaching math to kids who can't get it taught effectively in public school liberates a private dollar which can be spent on teaching (and thus unlawfully supporting) religion.)
posted by MattD at 10:20 AM on January 22, 2001


Can someone point out where the affected organizations are listed ? I want to see if they're family-planning specific or do include groups like WHO and Red Cross.
posted by bkdelong at 10:22 AM on January 22, 2001


Thank you, my Flapjack Friend, for reading carefully. Bush's action boils down to ideological grandstanding. We don't pay for abortions, and we never have. But now we're returning to era in which international organizations who even offer abortion as an alternative are inelegible for US funding.

The pro-life postition is one the rest of the world simply doesn't share, and it's arrogant of us to tell other cultures what is moral. Are starvation, overpopulation, ecological catastrophe, and infanticide lesser evils than abortion?

Day three. At this rate I'll be dead of an ulcer before the first State of the (dis?)Union Address.
posted by chino at 10:34 AM on January 22, 2001


I reread the article, and have greater understanding. I have no problem with the abortion, I have a problem with the aid. I have no clue why were are paying for medical assistance in other countries. Tax money should be spent at home, cutting foreign aid, and scaling back the military are both things that should be done. Opposing this aid, does not mean I think the savings should be given to the pentagon, it means our taxes should be lowered.

The selective cutting is snarky and ultimately petty, but that does not mean it won't save me $.35 (or whatever) in taxes, and is therefore supported by me, as the first step in shrinking waste.
posted by thirteen at 10:41 AM on January 22, 2001


Money is fungible; a US government dollar spent on birth control counseling is a private dollar which can be spent on abortions ...

That assumes there is “private” money to pay for birth control, while these organizations catered mostly to people who barely have enough money to eat.

Get used to four years of twtichy conservatives backing up their version of morality, wrapped up in some sort of fiscal responsibility. What a load a crock — it is responsible to fund birth control internationally to keep population under control, it is little more than missionizing to do defund organizations that merely offer it is an option. I can see Bush knows his career is going to be short-lived, so he's going to do as much damage as he can before he has a chance to steal the next election.

“The great truth proclaimed through clenched teeth by Mr. Baker in Tallahassee guided the Republican operatives in Florida to a strategy summed up in the phrase ‘Unless we win, it’s illegal.’”
— Lewis Lapham
posted by capt.crackpipe at 10:43 AM on January 22, 2001


I have no clue why were are paying for medical assistance in other countries.

Basic humanity. The moral obligations of affluence. Promoting international stability. And because sometimes they can't pay for it themselves.
posted by grimmelm at 10:44 AM on January 22, 2001


I'm with you, Thirteen. I'd personally beat a third-world child to death if it would get me $0.25 and a stick of gum. After all, they aren't Americans, so who cares about them?
posted by Doug at 10:56 AM on January 22, 2001


I love to see this. An ideological divide like the Grand Canyon. The election all over. But there is this: if we should not be paying for medical aid to foreign countries, why are we paying anything for military aid, significantly more money than for just about anythibng else? Is money for weapons etc ok but medical help not? I don't understand. Why not simply say: no money for anything to anyone? That way we can have nothing to argue over.
posted by Postroad at 10:59 AM on January 22, 2001


We've been funding international family planning organizations to give more people more choices. We can afford to do this. Bush can't take away our right to choose in this country without a lot of work, but he can start somewhere: by limiting the choices of families elsewhere in the world. His administration's attempt to present this to us as an economic issue is disgusting.

What a great kick-off to his first 100 days, not to mention his four-years. I never saw eye to eye with activists who tried to extend "personhood" to include unborn children. And maybe application of that term is something that's debatable.

But the concept of granting an unborn child the rights and priveleges of a citizen who deserves legal protection according to the "promises of our declaration of independence" is fucking ludicrous. Ugh. 28 years since roe v. wade. He sheds his moderate cloak and reveals himself to be a reactionary ass.

I'm all for "culture of life", but attempting to promote it through law is downright evil.
posted by sixfoot6 at 11:00 AM on January 22, 2001




dark, not to mention skins, limbs, spinal cords, brains. Seeing how the domestic prices are like way, way up.
posted by tiaka at 11:10 AM on January 22, 2001


No money for anything to anyone.

But I will add to that, don't set up spheres of influence.

Doug:They aren't Americans, so who cares about them?
Apparently you do, I suggest you drain your bank account and mail them a check right now.

Just because we could, does not mean we have to. Any obligation any of you feel is invented, unless I missed something huge in the constitution.
posted by thirteen at 11:12 AM on January 22, 2001


so i wonder if these monies are being set aside for medication and research for epidemics of venereal disease - oh - maybe there is a plan for more orphanages! we need more children brought into the world to be abandoned. shudder.
posted by jyoung at 11:15 AM on January 22, 2001


The pro-life postition is one the rest of the world simply doesn't share..
Or can physically support. While we consider over-population as being a third-world thing, it's the population of the first world that is using most of the resources. But as the third world catches up, those people will want the same standard of living that we have. Then over-population will be a massive global problem.
The ironic thing is that the people supporting the Bush position are probably the same people who, in a decade or two, will be bitching about being flooded by immigrants - the result of under-funded family planning in other countries.
posted by dithered at 11:18 AM on January 22, 2001


if we should not be paying for medical aid to foreign countries, why are we paying anything for military aid

I suspect a thorough analysis would reveal that money spent on "military aid" leads directly to the need for medical aid.

these abortion funds were cut off under Reagan and Bush père as well, and as we can all see, the planet did not implode

It's no surprise that you didn't feel the ramifications of this policy in your insular world, but I doubt this is true for people who, oh I don't know, depend on such organizations for family planning education and counseling.
posted by sudama at 11:20 AM on January 22, 2001


Just because we could, does not mean we have to.

Of course not. We COULD simply crawl down into a hole and ignore the fact that we live in a world of countless interconnections and dependencies where everything anyone does profoundly affects everyone else, hoping it will just all go away if we tell ourselves that "we" are somehow separate (and, of course, better) than "they" are. We could abandon our responsibility to try to see the big picture and just close our borders, build a wall around the country (Pat Buchanan, anybody?), and get back to the business of making a million dollars and buying a big house and a gilded chariot.

Of course when the world economy crumbles and the starving hoardes storm the walls, I don't think Alarmco is going to respond when your security perimeter is breached...
posted by rushmc at 11:32 AM on January 22, 2001


Don't promote abortion, stick with family planning education, keep your American aid. Simple.
posted by netbros at 11:34 AM on January 22, 2001


It's already illegal for the U.S government to pay for abortions.

Directly. Once the money is out there, of course, it can go just about anywhere the receipient wants. A classic Clintonian loophole.

Quickie responses to various points above: It is not arrogance to tell other countries what to do with our money. There is no population problem. (And it's a red herring anyway, since nobody would be changing their opinion on this funding even if worldwide population was decreasing.) This isn't medical assistance; it's a medically-unnecessary elective. And Postroad: There are a lot of Americans who would love to see "no money for anything to anyone." (No, I'm not one of them.)
posted by aaron at 11:36 AM on January 22, 2001



Recipient. Feh.
posted by aaron at 11:37 AM on January 22, 2001


This is an excellent example of how Bush is lying when he says he wants to unite the country.

Do people seem united here? It seems like half the country is cheering from the sidelines and the other half is being slapped in the face.

I think that every day Bush will repeatedly say that unity is his main goal. And every day he will do something divisive just like this.
posted by y6y6y6 at 11:39 AM on January 22, 2001


What thirteen said: donate directly, and take it as a tax-deductible. Then write to your local pols telling them what you've done, and why.
posted by holgate at 11:39 AM on January 22, 2001


you're exactly right, y6y6y6. And if you watched Sunday Morning news shows, you'll have noticed the new catch phrase. Whenever someone criticizes Bush, they're engaging in "the politics of personal destruction". This from the party that did everything they could to destroy clinton--short of trying to have him physically killed.
posted by jpoulos at 11:44 AM on January 22, 2001


rushmc: Are you talking to me directly?
posted by thirteen at 11:45 AM on January 22, 2001


Once the money is out there, of course, it can go just about anywhere the receipient wants. A classic Clintonian loophole.

Funny, that sounds like Iran-Contra to me.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 11:50 AM on January 22, 2001


I think that every day Bush will repeatedly say that unity is his main goal. And every day he will do something divisive just like this.

I don't see this any different from the Clinton era, these are two different parties that have different agendas, that are supported by different peoples. A large portion of the population feels that abortions should be legal and a large portion feels it shouldn't. It's really hard not to do anything divisive.
posted by tiaka at 11:54 AM on January 22, 2001


unite the country catch phrase. Capitulate. [Etymology: Democratic National Committee, 2000.]
posted by aaron at 11:56 AM on January 22, 2001


There is no population problem.

That is a matter of opinion. Personally, I think there are already 3X too many people on the planet (and the distribution sucks, too), and it grows worse each day.
posted by rushmc at 12:01 PM on January 22, 2001


"It's really hard not to do anything divisive."

Well, tough shit, it's hard then. But one of the reasons Bush got elected was that he spent every day saying that he would unite the country.

I said at the time that I thought he was lying and I was told that I should wait and judge him by his actions. So that's what I'm doing. And for someone whose platform IS bipartisan unity, this seems like a real bad start.

First Ashcroft now this. When will the "unity candidate" give me something that isn't insulting?
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:01 PM on January 22, 2001


rushmc: Are you talking to me directly?

Well, uh, yeah...that's why I quoted your comment. [g]
posted by rushmc at 12:02 PM on January 22, 2001


When will the "unity candidate" give me something that isn't insulting?

Concession speech, 4 years.
posted by rushmc at 12:04 PM on January 22, 2001


Many of the groups that protested against Ashcroft were doing so not because of honest divisions of opinion, but because they're out to get George W. Bush and cause him as much trouble as possible. (Yes, there were plenty of people honestly opposed to Ashcroft, but most of the special-interest groups are merely furious at having lost all their inside government influence.) Under such conditions, where any non-wishy-washy opinion is going to be attacked loudly and constantly by the special interests, it's hard to look like a unifier.

(Oh, I see. I click "post" and it turns into "wait." Neato.)
posted by aaron at 12:07 PM on January 22, 2001



In case anyone wants to do dig a little deeper into this issue (to find out exactly what restrictions this ban puts upon organizations, why it may be difficult or impossible to comply with them, and what the repercussions are), a good place to start is this page on the IPPF's site.
posted by muta at 12:18 PM on January 22, 2001


In his inaugural, Bush never used the word bipartisan. Instead, he chose the term civility. This new international family planning aid Executive Order is only different from what is presently in place by not supporting agencies that promote or perform abortion. Continue to operate as you have with family planning counseling and you will continue to receive aid. Promote or perform abortion and you won't. I see that as a unifying solution to a polarizing political issue. Continuing aid satisfies those in favor of the previous administration's policy. Tightening up that aid invites the opposite side into the process as well. We can all work together to improve population, STD, and poverty issues in the third world.
posted by netbros at 12:19 PM on January 22, 2001


More information.. here's an informative article from the Alan Guttmacher Institute about some of the politics behind the issue, and here's USAID's homepage, the government agency reponsible for distributing (or not) the funds.
posted by muta at 12:34 PM on January 22, 2001


rushmc: Choosing not to pay others way, does not necessarily mean crawling in a hole.

The responsibility you spoke of, when did it kick in? Why does America owe anyone a vaccination, or an abortion? Why does America owe this more that France or Spain? America is wealthy for many reasons, largely because food grows easily here, and business is somewhat unrestricted. We are not responsible for all suffering everywhere. By not feeling guilty about every unfortunate situation in the world, we are not seeing ourselves as better, we are treating the world as our equals.

America does need to be a good citizen of the world. We need to stop using tech in our country that affects everyone everywhere. If we ruined a country with a puppet government, we owe them apologies, and withdrawal. Again, you should feel free to send aid personally. I don't want to make you fund my agenda, please leave me out of yours.

As for your last bit, I do not live my life in pursuit of the things you mention, and the example is hyperbole. I am not afraid of people storming our borders, and if they try, I think we can take them, we are all armed dontchaknow.
posted by thirteen at 12:46 PM on January 22, 2001


We do have a responsibility to get biz straightened out at home, before spending money on fetus farming abroad.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:50 PM on January 22, 2001


Sonofsamiam, though perhaps being sarcastic, does hit on an important point, one that neither Bush nor Gore mentioned in any meaningful way throughout the campaign, but one that I'd hope that GWB is going to look at in short order; there are millions of Americans without easily affordable access to basic medical care. For many, lack of health insurance means that they are cut off from regular, non-elective care, basic prevention, vaccinations and checkups, and an emergency or accident could mean utter ruination. So before we bitch ourselves to death about cutting off funding to organisations that would use US tax dollars to promote a politically and morally divisive elective medical procedure in other countries, why don't we think about doing something to help those who need simple medical care right here on our own shores?

Btw, info about "family planning" from IPPF or the Guttmacher institute is about as objective as info on gun control from the NRA. Anyone have anything from a reasonable source?
posted by Dreama at 1:10 PM on January 22, 2001


wow, i would have hoped the discussion on MeFi of such a topic would be more intelligent. instead, we get a lot of poor and unhelpful rhetoric and hyperbole. there's obviously some thinking going on here, but it's obviously not thorough enough. maybe it's another case of the Net's structure encouraging people to say stuff they'd have more sense about in different settings. it's like people just go off.

it does show one thing surely: many people who hold 'tolerance' as a virtue are amazingly intolerant of people who value tolerance less. it's the liberal moralism.
posted by Sean Meade at 1:30 PM on January 22, 2001


Dreama, you're certainly right about our homegrown problems. Unfortunately the folks who cut health spending abroad are also the folks likely to cut it here. At the very least, they aren't likely to fund a national healthcare system. This isn't an either/or situation, but a statement of overall philosophy. I'm not going to judge that philosophy, but those who are hoping overseas savings will be spent on comparable programs domestically are wishing on the wrong administration.
posted by frykitty at 1:34 PM on January 22, 2001


thanks for your intelligent contribution, sean. if that isn't a bullshit circular argument, i dont' know what is.

also, for those who've forgotten, a proposed comprehensive health plan was blown out of the water a few years ago. now let me see, was that the Bush administration that proposed it? I think not.
posted by jpoulos at 1:45 PM on January 22, 2001


Why does America owe anyone a vaccination, or an abortion?

Goodness, what a tempting piece of rhetoric to jerk a knee in response to.

On the topic of vaccination, there is a human interest that goes with eliminating disease in the world. Except for some unfortunate stores, smallpox has been eliminated from the planet. Wouldn't you like to say the same for, say measles, rubella, hepatitis and polio? Wouldn't you prefer living in a world and not just a country that is free from those diseases? The worldwide elimination of those diseases is a clear win home and abroad. Taking an isolationist view for disease control is ridiculous since the possible repercussions are disasterous.
posted by plinth at 1:47 PM on January 22, 2001


jpoulos: you said it yourself: you obviously don't know what is.
posted by Sean Meade at 2:04 PM on January 22, 2001


a proposed comprehensive health plan was blown out of the water a few years ago.

Yup. Because it was one of the single most poorly-thought-out pieces of legislation in the history of the United States, and probably illegally-created as well (cf. Hillary Clinton's complete flouting of sunshine laws) ... to say nothing of the basic hideousness of the concept itself. You see that great economy we've had since 1992? Nationalizing 1/8 of the US economy would have destroyed that in about an hour, while destroying the quality of health care for those of us who already have private insurance.

You want to argue about providing coverage for those without it, fine. But you try to take away good coverage from the rest of us at the same time, you're damn right we'll blow it out of the water.
posted by aaron at 2:33 PM on January 22, 2001



... to say nothing of the basic hideousness of the concept itself.

[At which point, all sane discussion ends.]

Anyway, if people back up their principles and directly support the charities withheld funding by the new administration, it'll generate enough publicity to at least cause a holy embarrassment.
posted by holgate at 2:57 PM on January 22, 2001


Exactly my point, aaron, which frykitty overlooked. I am not advocating national healthcare. (One need only look north to see what a mess that would be.) I am advocating only that we focus on dealing with deficiencies in medical care for our own families first before worrying that our government is not funding medical electives elsewhere -- and I don't think that this administration is any more or less likely than the last umpteen to overlook the situation, which is why people who care need to start making their positions known.
posted by Dreama at 2:57 PM on January 22, 2001


Although I appreciate both sides of the argument about foreign aid, I would like to turn the focus briefly to Bush's careful and consistent use of the word "promote" in all its pejorative senses when discussing abortion--consistently conflating a greater choice and safety in family planning options with some implied nightmarishly sky-rocketing abortion rate. He will use this word when, for example, encouraging Tommy Thompson, his pick for Health and Human Services, who has vowed to "review" RU-486 if confirmed. In fact, since RU-486 was introduced in France in 1988, the abortion rate there has declined. Making family planning information available or changing to a safer medical method (at home or abroad) does not equate to "promotion"; the facts do not bear out Bush's manipulative use of the word.
posted by Joe Hutch at 3:18 PM on January 22, 2001


One need only look north to see what a mess (national healthcare) would be.Umm.. sure, Canada is currently going through serious discussions about the future funding of socialized medicine, but at least we don't turn poor people away at the hospital door. There are few political phrases more chilling to the average Canadian than "American-style health plan". (A little off-topic, but I had to defend my country! :) )
posted by jess at 3:19 PM on January 22, 2001


look, which costs more, contraception or abortion?

(this assumes that a woman can get her husband to agree to her or him using contraception.)

(note also, that all contraception fails part of the time.)

which costs more, contraception and abortion or foreign aid to help raise a child?

(this brings me to our own usa. why aren't we fully funding prenatal care in order to save money on fully funded well-child care, in order to save money on the partially funded adult medical care that we now pay? we'd save a ton of money in the long run....)

rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 4:13 PM on January 22, 2001


From the first presidential debate:

LEHRER: Governor Bush, if elected president, would you try to overturn the FDA's approval last week of the abortion pill RU-486?

BUSH: I don't think a president can do that.


From today's newspapers:

Bush aides also said the new administration will revisit the federal government's recent approval of the abortion-inducing drug RU-486.

Can we admit now that Bush's answer on RU-486 was one of the biggest lies of the presidential debates?
posted by rcade at 6:43 PM on January 22, 2001


Can we admit now that Bush's answer on RU-486 was one of the biggest lies of the presidential debates?

I certainly can, that is awful news.
posted by thirteen at 7:14 PM on January 22, 2001


okay, on nationalized health care: i don't understand why people get so knee-jerk about the idea. if you want to find fault with canada's system, the only way i see to do that is through their lack of materials and doctors. however, we already have sufficient supplies. it's not like we have to start over. there is no huge capitalist consortium that we have to turn all of our stuff over to if we decide to socialize something.
posted by pikachulolita at 9:19 PM on January 22, 2001


Japan's socialized medicine seems to be ideal... Everyone gets coverage. You only need to make 1% copayments whenever you go to see a doctor (thats a few hundred yen = a few dollars for most visits). If you want better care than the government offers to everyone, all you need to do is pay for it.

Socialized medicine is fairly standard in most industrialized countries.
posted by Neb at 11:40 PM on January 22, 2001


Dubyah is just re-instating an old Regan/Bush Sr. policy. I think it's his way of tossing a bone to the anti-abortion people who voted for him. I'll be surprised if he takes this any further.
posted by Potsy at 2:42 AM on January 23, 2001


Joe Hutch: though i think we probably think differently on this again, i appreciate your thoughtful input.

i think you're right, Potsy. the Repubs have been holding open pro-life to conservative Christians for a long time (at least since Reagan in 80) and there hasn't been much policy change. in my view, the cCs have gotten into bed with the Repubs, made some compromises hoping for change, sold out, didn't get anything for it, and have had their witness eroded.

how's that for a sermon?
posted by Sean Meade at 7:40 AM on January 23, 2001


The responsibility you spoke of, when did it kick in?

It's called "enlightened self-interest."
posted by rushmc at 8:43 AM on January 23, 2001


I think it's his way of tossing a bone to the anti-abortion people who voted for him.

You toss a bone, you give the dog an appetite and an expectation. You toss a bone on day one, and you have 1460 days more with a hungry dog that knows you have bones in the cupboard.
posted by holgate at 9:06 AM on January 23, 2001


Maybe he should cut aid to organisations which don't promote the death penalty as well.

After all, victims have rights too.
posted by Mocata at 9:42 AM on January 23, 2001


Don't scare me like that, Holgate. We only have 1,457 days left now.
posted by rcade at 10:17 AM on January 23, 2001


Anyway, if people back up their principles and directly support the charities withheld funding by the new administration, it'll generate enough publicity to at least cause a holy embarrassment.

Hardly - that will be exactly what should have happened in the first place, rather than government funding.


posted by mikewas at 1:15 PM on January 23, 2001


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