Summary: A reflection on current trends in abortion and what a Christian should know from Scripture.


QUESTION: What is your standard for right and wrong?

OPENING ILLUSTRATION… Bush Blocks U.S. Abortion Aid By SANDRA SOBIERAJ, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - On Monday’s anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, President Bush signed a memorandum reinstating the full abortion restrictions on U.S. overseas aid that his father and former President Reagan had instituted before him.

``It is my conviction that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortions or advocate or actively promote abortion either here or abroad,’’ Bush wrote in his executive memorandum to the U.S. Agency for International Development, which oversees family-planning aid to foreign countries.

It was Bush’s first major policy action since becoming president on Saturday.

It reverses the Clinton administration’s position on unrestricted family-planning aid and bars U.S. money to international groups that use their own money to support abortion - either through performing the surgery, counseling on abortion as a family-planning option or lobbying foreign governments on abortion policy.

On his first workday in the White House, Bush also gave a written statement to marchers on the 28th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

``The promises of our Declaration of Independence are not just for the strong, the independent or the healthy. They are for everyone, including unborn children,’’ his statement said. ``We share a great goal, to work toward a day when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law ... to build a culture of life, affirming that every person at every stage and season of life, is created equal in God’s image.’’

Abortion-rights supporter Kate Michelman saw it as Bush’s latest act of war on women’s reproductive rights, following on his nomination of staunch abortion opponents to key Cabinet posts - former Sen. John Ashcroft for attorney general and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson as secretary of health and human services.

Bush ``is using his presidential powers quite aggressively already to undermine a woman’s right to choose and clear a pathway to the overturning of Roe v. Wade,’’ Michelman said. ``I think it’s a harbinger of things to come - Supreme Court appointments, judicial appointments ... . There’s quite a bit of harm that can be done to women’s reproductive rights.

``He clearly is bending to the will of the far right on these issues. He so quickly shed his facade and his cloak of moderation on this issue,’’ she said.

Current law bans the use of U.S. funds for any abortions in foreign countries. Former Presidents Reagan and Bush further banned U.S. aid to international groups that use their own money to support abortion - either through performing the surgery, counseling on abortion as a family-planning option, or lobbying foreign governments on abortion policy - in what became known as the Mexico City policy because it was announced by Reagan at a 1984 population conference there.

President Clinton repealed the policy, which abortion-rights advocates call ``the global gag rule,’’ two days after he entered office in 1993. It went through several subsequent iterations as the Democratic president reached different compromises with congressional Republicans.

U.S. funds will flow unrestricted to international family-planning groups on Feb. 15 unless the new president acts by executive order to impose abortion restrictions, as Bush has decided to do.

Anti-abortion lawmakers who agreed in last year’s spending bill to let U.S.-assisted family-planning groups do whatever they wanted with their own money gambled that Bush would be elected.

With the Bush White House signaling a decision Monday, abortion opponents celebrated.

``This means that the U.S. government will no longer be using taxpayer dollars to try to legalize abortion in countries in Latin America, Africa and Muslim countries in which the people are strongly opposed to abortion and believe in the protection of unborn children,’’ said Douglas Johnson, legislative director for National Right to Life Committee.

Bush’s written statement to the ``March for Life’’ was delivered by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., a leader of the anti-abortion movement, to activists gathered on the National Mall.

Asked why Bush wasn’t presenting the statement himself, either in person or by telephone, Fleischer said the president chose the manner in which to deliver his message and it ``signifies that he has an important statement to make.’’

The politically and emotionally charged issue of abortion promised to test Bush’s ability to deliver on his oft-repeated promise to unite Democrats and Republicans.

Since the election was decided, Bush has answered questions on the issue with a relatively tepid reminder: ``As you know, I campaigned as a pro-life candidate.’’

But while he may not himself engage in the sound and fury of the activists who back him, Bush has nominated a staunch abortion opponent for attorney general, former Sen. John Ashcroft, and signaled quick action to reverse Clinton policies supporting access to abortion.

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