Restrictions on International Abortion Programs

WASHINGTON -- November 1999 -- The nation's major pro-life organization today commended Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) and congressional Republican leaders for winning some important new constraints on the Clinton-Gore Administration's promotion of abortion through the U.S. foreign aid program.

Much of the U.S. "population assistance" money goes to private organizations that operate in nations in which the laws protect unborn children, allowing abortion in only very rare circumstances. This includes nearly all of Latin America and much of Africa.

In budget negotiations with congressional Republican leaders, in order to obtain payment of U.N. back dues and other concessions by congressional Republicans, the White House this week reluctantly agreed to language that generally prohibits U.S. funding to private groups that perform abortions or that campaign to legalize abortion in foreign nations.

Significantly, the language gives the president authority to waive the restrictions and to allow up to $15 million in funding to groups that engage in such activities -- but when he invokes this authority, it will trigger the transfer of $12.5 million from population control programs into child survival programs. More importantly, even when the waiver is invoked, 96% of the total budget for "population assistance" will be governed by the pro-life restrictions.

"If the Administration abides by the law, 96% of the population-control budget will be fenced off from groups that promote legalized abortion," commented NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson. He noted, however, that the waiver provisions mean that some groups that work to undermine foreign pro-life laws will continue to receive U.S. tax dollars under the deal, and the restrictions will expire next September 30.

"Only with the election of a pro-life president will the U.S. government really get out of the business of promoting the killing of the unborn children of Third World mothers," he said.

Johnson said that achieving even this limited success, in the face of the White House's usual captivity to the abortion lobby, was a testament to the tenacity of Congressman Smith and the determination of Republican leaders to force the White House to compromise on the issue.

"Vice-president Gore reportedly distanced himself from the deal, but it does not appear that he made any strenuous effort to block it," Johnson observed.

Source: National Right to Life Press Release, 11/17/99

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