Europeans May Match Funds Cut By Global Gag Rule – Part II

Most family planning organizations try to reduce the number of abortions by offering contraception. So, in cutting funds to organizations that provide or promote abortion services, advocates argue, Bush’s decision in fact cuts family planning funds for the other reproductive health services offered by these organizations.

“If we cannot provide as much family planning as we do already, that automatically is going to result in more unwanted pregnancies which is often going to result in unsafe abortions, which goes directly against what we want to do, which is reduce the number of abortions,” said Pandian, the spokesperson for the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

Some groups will accept the money with anti-abortion speech strings attached, but their number is not known.

Susan Cohen, assistant director for Policy Development at the Alan Guttmacher Institute in Washington, D.C. said that, if history is any indication, family planning clinics that counsel their patients about abortion will chose to accept U.S. funds in order to keep their doors open. But the trade-off is clear: They will have to keep their mouths shut about the possibility of terminating unwanted or hazardous pregnancies.

“The EU cannot help them with that because by virtue of the definition of the policy,” Cohen said, “once a non-governmental organization decides to accept the U.S funds, it cannot work with any European government or any other donor, who might want to replace the funding or continue the funding they may have had for their abortion-related work.”

Other organizations, like the International Planned Parenthood Federation, will refuse the funds. That could be as much as $8 million for 2001 to 2003, about 8 percent of their budget, according to its spokesperson Pandian.

“It will definitely affect the work that we do with young people and HIV/AIDS prevention and in insuring safe motherhood in many of the countries that we work with,” Pandian added.

U.S. groups opposing the global gag rule thanked Nielson in a letter originated by Catholics For A Free Choice and co-signed by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the American Medical Women’s Association, the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy, National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Population Action International.

“Even though the Bush administration wants to take the world backward,” said Cohen from the Alan Guttmacher Institute, “the European Union is going to commit itself to follow through on the commitments that all the world’s countries made at the Cairo population conference in 1994 and at the Beijing Women’s Conference in 1995, to promote and protect women’s reproductive health around the world including in developing countries.”

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