Features

Abortion imperialism

"Abortion imperialism" Continued...

Issue: "Roe vs. Wade 25," Jan. 17, 1998

Pathfinder, Inc., a nonprofit family-planning group based outside Boston, receives $34 million of its $43 million budget from USAID. And Population Services International of Washington, D.C., receives $27 million from USAID of a $34 million business in overseas family-planning projects.

Under the Reagan and Bush administrations, these nonprofits, called nongovernmental organizations or NGOs, could not receive federal funds if they performed or actively promoted abortion. During that time the UN population agency also was denied U.S. funding because of its support for and participation in China's coercive one-child policy. One of President Clinton's first acts after taking office was to erase that policy in 1993. NGOs are still barred from using taxpayer money to perform abortions overseas, but they are welcome to use funds from other sources for that purpose. This leads to creative bookkeeping among NGOs who handle abortions and prompts members of the industry to become masters of Orwellian terminology:

*"Community-based service distribution" is a common reference to birth control clinics.

*"Birth-spacing options" includes counseling for abortion as well as birth control.

*"Influencing demographic behavior" is how the Population Council (instrumental in research into RU-486) describes reducing birth rates through contraception and abortion.

*"Social marketing programs for condoms" is now the preferred term for condom giveaways.

*Contraceptive devices are measured in "couple-years-of-protection," representing "the amount of contraception necessary to protect one couple for one year," according to Population Services International.

*"Population services" has even widely replaced the once-euphemistic "population control."

*And the World Bank recently changed the name of its Population Health Network to the "Human Development Department."

Carefully crafting the language only veils a broader agenda. Pathfinder, which in the past included abortions in its portfolio, now targets young teens in its promotional material. In a section on "adolescents," the organization says its goals are "increasing access to safe FP [family planning]"; "promoting good RH [reproductive health] behavior at an early age"; "educating newlyweds on birth-spacing options"; and "to increase support among local organizations for adolescent service delivery."

A five-year study conducted by FHI with USAID funding reached these conclusions: "Childbearing reduces the likelihood women will work for pay." "Women who do work for pay are likely to spend their earnings to improve the quality of life for their families." "Childbearing has a negative effect on women's participation in the labor force." The report concluded, "In short, there is a 'child tax' or cost associated with each birth, which limits improvements in women's earnings."

Members of Congress may have a new and better opportunity to put a little distance between federal dollars and overseas abortions as early as February. That is when Congress is likely to consider a supplemental appropriation package for the International Monetary Fund in order to bail out Asia's financial markets.

"Logical or not," said Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's spokesman Bill Gribbin, "the IMF money will be the train on which to attach this caboose."

Pro-life leaders in both houses will attempt to add instructions in the appropriations bill, similar to those on the books under Presidents Reagan and Bush, which would eliminate federal funding for groups that promote or perform abortions overseas. That maneuver was attempted last year on the president's fast-track trade legislation, and President Clinton gave up on the measure rather than concede to the pro-life initiative. Likewise, any measure to curtail federal funding for family planning faces dim prospects. "Any freestanding bill will go nowhere with this administration," said Mr. Gribbin. So pro-life lawmakers will push for riders on legislation the president covets or look for ways to amend authorization bills that can't be undone by the president's line-item veto pen.

Mindy Belz
Mindy Belz

Mindy travels to the far corners of the globe as the editor of WORLD and lives with her family in the mountains of western North Carolina. Follow Mindy on Twitter @mcbelz.

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