Friday, January 23, 2009

International abortion hoo-ha 

Barack Obama, like Bill Clinton before him, has reversed the "Mexico City rule," which prohibits funding to international family planning groups that provide abortions. I have to admit, I really do not understand why this issue so animates American supporters of lawful abortion.

While I support lawful abortion (although not to the extent of Roe), I also understand why Americans who are passionately opposed to abortion take particular offense to the use of taxpayer money to terminate fetuses outside the United States. If I were a right-to-lifer, this particular order of President Obama would really grate my cheese.

However, I honestly do not understand why supporters of lawful abortion in the United States (whether or not to the extent of Roe) have more than a casual interest in foreign abortions. Barack Obama is liberating American taxpayer money to effect the termination of foreign fetuses and the rights of foreign women to control their own body, which are barely, if at all, connected to any important American interest. Surely those few organizations who both do something humanitarian (whatever you might think about abortion, it is pretty darn difficult to call it "humanitarian" -- utilitarian, perhaps, but not humanitarian) or otherwise in our interests and perform abortions can get money from the godless Europeans, who anyway tend to go in for population control more than Americans.

Point is, I really do not understand why Obama's base would care enough about subsidizing foreign abortions to compensate for enraging the people who are opposed to it, so I see no political advantage in it. Yet there must be, because you need an electron microscope to see the moral or policy basis for the order. Could one of you who supports Obama's order explain this to me?


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Jan 23, 11:14:00 PM:

Observation: deciding policy based on who pitches the largest and most public fit seems to provide a race to the bottom.

Attempt at requested justification: the fear might be an extension of the policy via the following argument: "if we concede that tax dollars should treat even advice on abortion as a disqualifying factor abroad, surely it must be an atrocious and evil thing, and we should do everything we can to not support atrocious and evil things at home." I think it's a "if you give a mouse a cookie, he'll ask for a glass of milk" problem, "or give an inch, take a mile" if you are children's-book-impaired.

This may speak to a greater inconvenience in the abortion debate, where the liberals look at the South Dakotans and the conservatives look at [mandatory abortion advocate], and everyone concludes the other side is too crazy or zealous to compromise with.

@ TH: Do you care the Obama preferred to sign the rule on Thursday rather than Wednesday?  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Fri Jan 23, 11:33:00 PM:

Well, abortion is certainly a bad thing (who honestly, in their right mind, thinks it is a good thing?), but that does not mean it should be unlawful. There are lots of bad things that should be lawful, on the one hand, and not subsidized, on the other. That seems to me to be a totally reasonable position and is probably closer to the American political center than either of the alternatives (banning abortions, or subsidizing them).  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Jan 24, 12:02:00 AM:

Organizations should be allowed to mention abortion as an option. This isn't about taxpayer funded abortions as much as it is allowing NGOs to provide accurate medical information.

The policy was wildly overbroad: it's one thing to say that federal funds can't be used to pay for abortions (and it's not unreasonable, certainly); it's another altogether to condition funds on an NGO never speaking of abortion, whether doing so in its federally funded mission or in missions paid for with private funds.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Jan 24, 02:15:00 AM:

It's about sticking it to social conservatives. That's what it is.

Obama = one termer disaster.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Jan 24, 02:43:00 AM:

"which are barely, if at all, connected to any important American interest."

The Left is reflexively opposed to any policy which advances American interests.

If you have been watching, I do not understand your confusion.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Jan 24, 02:59:00 AM:

If you had actually read the article you would understand why "babykillers" like myself are in favor of reversing the rule. But in the interest of getting to the point:

The ban extended to denying funds to family planning organizations even if they didn't actually perform abortions. If they even so much as mentioned abortion as an option: no money for you. I think that reasonable people can agree that family planning is needed everywhere. Using the abortion exception was a backdoor way for people who are so far as to be anti-contraception to have their way.

I hope that is clear.

Oh yeah. Bush sucked.  

By Blogger Neil Sinhababu, at Sat Jan 24, 03:19:00 AM:

First, I'm hoping that everyone can see the value of making contraception widely available, both in terms of population control and in terms of letting people know what's going on.

Understand how broad the language of the gag rule was -- it's not just that federal money can't be used for abortions, it's that organizations that get federal money for other things can't talk about abortion. So if you have a big NGO that wants to deliver contraceptives, you can't also have a branch that does abortion.

This caused all sorts of havoc for organizations that were already providing lots of abortions. International Planned Parenthood decided to keep performing abortions, and lost 20% of its funding. Now, I have no idea how much funding would've gone to abortion and how much to contraception. But I hope people can see how a large NGO that's doing all sorts of stuff might end up distributing less contraception because of funding cuts under this law. And that would be a bad thing.

I should add that I see first-trimester abortion as morally equivalent to contraception -- before there's any sort of mind, even enough to experience pain, there can't be any right to life. (The Journal of the American Medical Association had an article on fetal pain, the abstract of which I strongly recommend to anybody who wants the science on this issue. It's a very quick read.)

So I'd say that paying for poor women to have abortions -- especially given the consequences of an unintended pregnancy for their economic well-being -- can perfectly well count as a good humanitarian deed. And considering that women in dire situations will often choose horribly unsafe methods of ending a pregnancy, I'd be happy to see my tax dollars pay for safe and cheap abortions in the Third World.  

By Blogger Neil Sinhababu, at Sat Jan 24, 03:23:00 AM:

Ack, these are the kind of ill-formed sentences I write when I don't get enough sleep. Anyway.  

By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Sat Jan 24, 04:22:00 AM:

The Rooskies and the godless Chicoms think abortion is a good thing, since it is a routine part of their family planning.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Jan 24, 07:50:00 AM:

Abortion is a sacred cow of the Democratic Party. Remember, these are the people who think that Sarah Palin's "defective" infant should have been exterminated. Obama himself noted that he wouldn't want his daughters "punished with a baby."

Punished with a baby.

I don't understand why abortion services cannot be supported by private funds, provided by those who support the procedure. But, as has been noted on this Blog many a time, the left isn't big into charitable donation -- instead, "government" (as in, "we the people") should be coerced into supporting every pet cause via taxation.


By Blogger TigerHawk, at Sat Jan 24, 07:57:00 AM:

I think that gag rules are stupid, so I do not have any problem changing that aspect of the order. I appreciate that will irritate the anti-abortion activists, but I think many people would see the wisdom of, er, splitting the baby and saying that speech is one thing, acting is another. More critically, I am not sure I see why it is critical that the United States, among all the countries in the world, fund these organizations. As one of the previous commenters said, there are a great many countries with a lot of money -- Europe, China, and Japan -- that have a greater attachment to population reduction as a political philosophy and no obvious objections to abortion. Why not let them carry the ball on funding groups that do abortions? Still seems like an easy decision, rather than a hard one.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Jan 24, 08:05:00 AM:

I'm glad you see the silliness of the gag rule aspect.

re: groups: if we're going to fund women's health abroad, we should do so as effectively as possible. That means providing money to, say, PP Intl if they've got the best operation. And it's stupid to shoot effective funding in the foot just because PP Intl also performs abortions through its non-US funding.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Jan 24, 08:58:00 AM:

Whatever the justification for abortion education in America, it is evident that third world nations are deeply suspicious of American nitpickers and do-gooders who seem to want to abort third world babies. They don't understand that it is a political article of faith in America that every pregnant woman "really" wants or needs an abortion, and just needs to be "counseled" on the subject so as to be able to make the right choice. It doesn't normally occur to the left winger that children are an asset in most countries in the developing world. You can't really blame them for getting the impression that Americans want to eliminate their populations, can you?

Mangas Colorados  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Sat Jan 24, 09:38:00 AM:

If the intent of the policy reversal was to ALLOW discussion of abortion as an option...and NOT "fund" abortions...then I certainly find that reasonable.

Bear in mind: Most organizations that rely on US dollars for funding (eg. IPP) must realize that the actual funding of abortion procedures is a political football that WILL be reversed as the political tides turn here in the US.

It would be a far more sane and sensible policy to allow the mere discussion of abortion as an option. The majority of centrists would find that acceptable.

The actual funding of the option should NOT be sourced to any government, but should be a private, "humanitarian" concern.

Let Soros pay for it!  

By Blogger Unknown, at Sat Jan 24, 06:21:00 PM:

However, I honestly do not understand why supporters of lawful abortion in the United States (whether or not to the extent of Roe) have more than a casual interest in foreign abortions.
Could one of you who supports Obama's order explain this to me?

I can explain it, Tigerhawk. Those of us who believe deeply in a woman's right to choose to continue, or to terminate, a pregnancy, do not see it as a perk or a privilege; we see it as a human right. And because human rights by definition are rights that belong to everyone because they're human and not because they are citizens of a particular country, we object when that human right is denied to any woman, anywhere in the world. And of course, when it's our own government that's making it harder or impossible for women in other countries to choose abortion, or to have access to contraceptives and all other forms of reproductive health care, then we feel it as a particularly strong obligation to protest, because it's our country doing it in our names.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Jan 24, 07:01:00 PM:

Dearest Tigerhawk,
Methinks you have asked the illogical to explain their logic. You may have a better chance at asking a Bass why he bites the minnow with a hook through it.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jan 25, 02:00:00 PM:

Why do liberals want us to fund Third-world planned parenthood camps?

Because abortion wasn't really invented for white women. It was invented by progressive eugenicists to control the "lesser races". This is exactly what it was invented for.  

By Blogger joe buz, at Mon Jan 26, 02:34:00 PM:

I wonder at what point a fetus obtains the "human rights that belong to everyone"?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Jan 27, 12:53:00 PM:

I appreciate TigerHawk acknowledging the righteous outrage at forcing taxpayers to pay for abortions, let alone those overseas.

Does no one else see the irony in the Left's outrage for 'torture' such as waterboarding but love for abortion?

Or the irony in funding overseas abortions during a recession?

Conservatives ought to oppose the executive act on a number of grounds.  

By Blogger Unknown, at Wed Jan 28, 12:31:00 AM:


When it's born.  

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