Jan 31, 2009

Obama condemned for expanding taxpayer funded abortions


Matthew Lee and Liz Sidoti - Associated Press Writers - 1/24/2009 6:50:00 AM
WASHINGTON - As he promised during the election campaign, Barack Obama on Friday struck down a ban against taxpayer funded abortions abroad.

Obama's move was warmly welcomed by liberal groups and denounced by defenders of unborn children.

The ban has been a political football between Democratic and Republican administrations since GOP President Ronald Reagan first adopted it 1984. Democrat Bill Clinton ended the ban in 1993, but Republican George W. Bush re-instituted it in 2001 as one of his first acts in office.

"For too long, international family planning assistance has been used as a political wedge issue, the subject of a back and forth debate that has served only to divide us," Obama said in a statement released by the White House. "I have no desire to continue this stale and fruitless debate."

"In the coming weeks, my administration will initiate a fresh conversation on family planning, working to find areas of common ground to best meet the needs of women and families at home and around the world," the president said.

Obama issued the presidential memorandum rescinding the Bush policy without coverage by the media, late Friday afternoon.

The abortion measure is a highly emotional one for many people, and the quiet signing was in contrast to the televised coverage of Obama's announcement Wednesday on ethics rules and Thursday's signing of orders on closing the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and banning torture in the questioning of
terror suspects.

His action came one day after the 36th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion.

The Bush policy had banned U.S. taxpayer money, usually
in the form of Agency for International Development funds, from going to
international family planning groups that either offer abortions or provide
information, counseling or referrals about abortion as a family planning method.

The ban has been known as the "Mexico City policy" for the city a U.S. delegation first announced it at a U.N. International Conference on Population.

Pro-life groups and lawmakers condemned Obama's decision.

"I have long supported the Mexico City Policy and believe this administration's decision to be counter to our nation's interests," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

"Coming just one day after the 36th anniversary of the tragic Roe v. Wade decision, this presidential directive forces taxpayers to subsidize abortions overseas -
something no American should be required by government to do," said House
Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

 
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