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On January 22, 2001, President Bush reinstated the "Mexico City Policy." This policy prohibits non-governmental organizations that perform and promote elective abortions from receiving federal tax subsidies for overseas family planning programs. Since its reinstatement, pro-abortion organizations have condemned the President and made misleading claims about the impact and effect of the policy. Moreover, opponents have introduced the so-called "Global Democracy Promotion Act" to overturn it.
Myth: The Mexico City Policy is "anti-family planning."
Facts: $425 million has been appropriated for overseas family planning programs. The Mexico City policy merely requires that if a family planning organization chooses to accept these funds, it may not provide and promote abortion through its family planning programs. If the organization chooses not to accept these funds, as the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) has, it is free to use private money for its family planning and abortion programs. When IPPF has refused to comply with the policy in the past, it was able to raise millions of dollars from private sources quickly. (T. Lewin, "Abortion- Aid Cutoff Still Being Judged," New York Times, February, 27, 1989, p. A 16). A policy against promoting abortion is only "anti-family planning" if one assumes, contrary to U.S. and United Nations policy, that abortion itself is a method of "family planning."
Myth: The Mexico City Policy will cause women to die.
Facts: First, the policy clearly does not restrict organizations from providing life-saving care after an abortion, whether illegal or legal. (The White House, Statement by the Press Secretary, "Restoration of the Mexico City Policy," January 22, 2001).
Second, five years after the policy was first implemented in 1984, there was no evidence of increased illegal abortions or deaths resulting from complications of those abortions. (T. Lewin, "Abortion-Aid Cutoff Still Being Judged," New York Times, February, 27, 1989, p. A 16).
Third, high rates of maternal morbidity can be greatly reduced by access to basic health care. Dr. R.L. Walley, medical director of MaterCare International, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology who has spent 20 years in West Africa caring for poor mothers, cites five causes for high maternal morbidity rates: hemorrhage, infection, induced abortion, high blood pressure and obstructed labor. In a February 1998 speech in Rome, Dr. Walley said, "...[M]ost of the deaths need not happen if complications receive prompt treatment." He added, "[The] women who die want to be mothers but are poor, young and have no influential voice to speak on their behalf and are denied the emergency care which is readily available and inexpensive." (R.L. Walley, "Maternal and Perinatal Care: A Preferential Option for Mothers," delivered in Rome, Feb.20, 1998). Promoting abortion does not address their needs.
Myth: The Mexico City Policy is bad for the poor in developing nations.
Facts: Most developing nations have laws that protect the unborn. Half of the developing nations allow abortion only to protect the mother's life or in cases where the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. Virtually all prohibit the use of abortion as a method of birth control. On the other hand, most developed nations have permissive abortion policies, which they are tempted to export to developing nations. (A. Rahman, L. Katzive and S. Henshaw, "A Global Review of Laws on Induced Abortion, 1985-1997," International Family Planning Perspectives, vol. 24 no. 2, June 1998).
Poor women in developing nations are not calling for help to abort their children. They are calling for food, housing, and medicine for themselves and their families. What they resent is the suggestion that they must accept the abortion policies of developed nations as a condition for receiving development assistance.
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