At a retreat for Democratic House members this weekend, George W. Bush faced tough questions about his first executive order, which reinstated the “global gag rule,” and about his new faith-based social services program. Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) accused Bush of using a double standard, reinstating the global gag rule and then allowing religious organizations to perform social services, not religious ones, using government money. The gag rule prohibits family planning programs outside the U.S. who receive US funds from using private, separate monies to counsel abortions, and threatens removal of much-needed funding for a whole range of reproductive and women’s health services. Democratic participants said Bush did not directly answer Pelosi’s questions, and did not provide a “clear” explanation of his reasoning for the faith-based program.
The European Union also criticized Bush’s decision to reinstate the global gag rule, announcing last week that it will “fill in the gaps” created by Bush’s decision. EU Development Commissioner Paul Neilson said last week that EU officials were “angered” by Bush’s executive order, and said that supporting the work of programs like the UN Fund for Population Activities and International Planned Parenthood Federation was paramount.