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Chris Field is Editor of Human Events Online [go to Field index]

Muzzling Reality About 'Muzzling Abortion'
Washington Post misses reality... again...
[Chris Field] 6/21/04

Last week the Washington Post ran an editorial titled "Muzzling Abortion." As is not uncommon on the Post's editorial page, the piece had a liberal slant that skipped right over reality. So, in order to help the Post realize its mistakes, here are portions of the editorial interspersed with snippets of what they missed.

POST: In the 2000 campaign, George W. Bush maintained a studiously moderate stance on social issues.

REALITY: It may be true that Bush seemed -- or even was -- moderate on some social issues during the 2000 campaign, but abortion was not one of them. He was most definitely pro-life. Considering that abortion is the social issue in question in this editorial, the Post starts its editorial rather disingenuously by insinuating that Bush campaigned as a moderate on abortion, since it classifies as a "social issue."

POST: Once he assumed office in January 2001, he betrayed that position and delighted his right-wing base by attaching antiabortion conditions to foreign assistance. These conditions laid down that family planning groups accepting federal money must not perform abortions, or even provide information about them to their patients.

REALITY: The "antiabortion conditions to foreign assistance" to which the Post refers is the "Mexico City" Policy that was in place from 1984 to 1993, when Clinton repealed it, and was reinstituted by President Bush in 2001. It was neither new nor different.

As I've noted before, liberals "maintain that private, foreign organizations that perform elective abortions or that lobby for the repeal of restrictions on abortions should be eligible for pregnancy prevention assistance from United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in the countries in which they perform those abortions or lobby for those repeals. Between 1984 and 1993, such organizations were not eligible for United States foreign assistance. That bar on assistance was imposed by presidential directive and was called the 'Mexico City' policy. It was imposed after the United Nations International Conference on Population (which was held in Mexico City) declared that abortion 'in no case should be promoted as a method of family planning . . .'

"President Clinton rescinded that ban in 1993. During the 9 years that the ban was in effect funding increased substantially for USAID population planning assistance, and 350 private, foreign organizations received aid. A few organizations, such as International Planned Parenthood Federation, were denied funds because they refused to comply with the Mexico City policy."

After Clinton repealed the policy, USAID "funding increased further in 1993 and 1994, but with International Planned Parenthood Federation taking a large share of that increase. In 1995 Congress passed a foreign aid bill reinstituting the Mexico City policy. President Clinton vetoed that bill."

POST: As we said at the time, forcing an organization to censor its views as a condition of receiving government money would be unconstitutional on free-speech grounds in this country. Mr. Bush's calculation, we supposed, was that Americans would overlook his contempt for free speech if the consequences were limited to far-off poor countries.

REALITY: The obvious thrust of this editorial is not to debate abortion and abortion funding, but to actively work to change the subject with regard to abortion funding -- a common liberal tactic when it comes to killing the unborn. No longer does the Left claim the debate over the "Mexico City" Policy and government funding for pro-abortion groups to be about the right to have an abortion: now it's about the freedom of speech.

Liberals like those on the Post's editorial board are avoiding the abortion argument altogether, knowing that most Americans would likely tell them tax dollars shouldn't pay for the promotion or execution of abortions. Instead, they are now claiming that the policy violates the First Amendment.

POST: Now another election campaign has started, and Mr. Bush has dropped the pretense of moderation. He has followed up his defunding of groups that perform abortions by defunding other groups that associate with them. This month in Washington, an annual conference on health in developing countries, which in previous years had been partially funded by the United States and had been attended by senior Bush administration officials, went ahead without U.S. government support. Again, its offense was to invite the dreaded U.N. Population Fund, along with the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

REALITY: The Post is apparently upset that the government would dare to "restrict" the speech and behavior of these pro-abortion groups. They neglect to mention that the federal government constantly tells organizations that receive taxpayer monies what they can and cannot do or say.

POST: Abortion will always be an agonizing issue, and the right balance between abstinence and contraception is a fair subject for debate. But the attempt to deny conference platforms to groups that oppose the administration's view is inimical both to free speech and to scientific inquiry.

REALITY: Does the Post actually expect us to believe that the government is somehow censoring these groups? Simply not giving taxpayer dollars to pro-abortion groups does not equate to censorship.

POST: To attack a conference of public health specialists, canceling grants that would have been used to allow delegates from developing countries to attend, is to drag the battles over abortion and conservative values into forums where they have no place.

REALITY: What would be the right place? If the Post wants to argue that the correct place for such a debate is in political campaigns, fine. Bush won that debate in 2000 and has acted upon his beliefs which helped him to win office. CRO

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