Despite claims that President Bush believes family planning services are the best way to reduce abortions, his proposed budget would cut aid for international family planning by eighteen percent. This cut would reduce the amount offered from $436 million to $357 million, reports The New York Times. Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, criticized the proposed cuts, stating to the Times that “[i]t’s ironic that an administration outwardly committed to reducing the incidence of abortion would take away valuable tools for preventing unwanted pregnancies.”
Ed Fox of the United States Agency for International Development points to the proposed budget’s funds to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria, and sexual violence as positive steps for women, according to the Times. However, Lowey and other members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees fear that the cuts in family planning services, combined with the Global Gag Rule, could have disastrous results for women in developing countries, reports the Times. The gag rule currently in place, or the Mexico City Policy, bars family planning programs in countries that receive US federal aid from using separate, private monies for abortion counseling, advocacy, and referrals.
The Reagan Administration first imposed the Global Gag Rule in 1984. Though President Clinton rescinded the policy for the eight years of his presidency, President Bush issued an executive order to reinstate the Global Gag Rule during his first official day in office in January 2001. Last week, the British government has announced that it will give three million pounds to the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s new Global Safe Abortion Programme to assist organizations whose funding has been cut by the Bush Administration’s policy.