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Executive (Dis)Orders: Pro-life Policies Set to be Jettisoned

18 November 2008 — Vol. 10/ No. 48

Obama's transition team is busily preparing a thick sheaf of Executive Orders for the President-elect to sign the day he takes office. And—in a reprise of what happened when Bill Clinton took power 16 years ago—the pro-life policies of the Bush Administration will apparently be the first to go.

Obama appears set to reverse existing Executive Orders that protect taxpayers from having to fund abortions at home and abroad. Moreover, Bush's prohibition against the vivisection of tiny humans (aka embryonic stem cell research), will almost certainly go by the wayside.

Another pro-life policy on the ideological chopping block involves the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), which unabashedly supports China's inhumane one-child policy.

We know. It was the Population Research Institute whose investigation in China led the Bush administration to cut off funding to the UNFPA for the past seven years. We have continued to monitor the situation in China, and we stand by our assertion that the UNFPA was—and is—involved in coercive abortions in China.

PRI's original report, entitled "UNFPA, China, and Coercive Family Planning," is based on an investigation conducted by PRI researchers in China's Sihui County. Relying on interviews with over two dozen victims and witnesses, the 2001 investigation found that coercive abortion and sterilization practices were taking place in that county where the UNFPA had supposedly instituted a "client-centered and voluntary family planning program." In fact, PRI's investigation revealed that the UNFPA shared an office with the very Chinese family planning officials who were locking up women and carrying out forced abortions.

Prompted by this investigation, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell sent his own research team to China, which independently verified the facts that PRI had gathered. As a result, Powell himself urged that the U.S. government stop funding the UNFPA. Said Powell in a 2002 letter to Congress: "UNFPA's support of, and involvement in, China's population-planning activities allows the Chinese government to implement more effectively its program of coercive abortion."

President-elect Obama and his supporters blame pro-lifers in the Bush administration for this decision, but it was Colin Powell, who is no friend of social conservatives and who recently endorsed Obama for President, who made this call.

It would be a shame if Obama abandons both the women of China and one of his most high-profile backers in the name of the failed ideology of population control. Americans don't want their money going to an organization—the UNFPA—which works hand-in-glove with China's population control police as they drag women off for forced abortions and forced sterilizations. In protecting American taxpayers from having to fund such atrocities, President Bush made the right call.

Compare Bush's judicious actions to those of his predecessor. Bill Clinton chose the 20th anniversary of Roe v. Wade to sign, in a televised Oval Office ceremony, a series of executive orders undoing the pro-life policies of the Reagan-Bush era. The orders he signed on that day—only his fourth in office—undid the Mexico City policy, allowing tax dollars to flow to abortion outfits, encouraged federally-funded clinics to refer for abortions, forced the U.S. military to provide abortion services, and permitted human embryo vivisection. His oft-stated claim that he wanted abortion to be "safe, legal and rare" was revealed as a sham at that moment.

Bush weighed the evidence before acting, while Clinton overreached. What will Obama do?

Whatever he does, it will cast in sharp relief who Barack Obama really is. Is he the reasonable-sounding moderate who appeared on the televised debates and in those carefully crafted (and ubiquitous) TV commercials? Or is he the radical who associates with race-baiting pastors, unrepentant terrorists, and makes far-reaching promises to Planned Parenthood?

By signing a series of pro-abortion Executive Orders, President Obama will be perceived as governing from the Left. The die will be cast, and pro-lifers will rally against him from that moment. They will start looking towards 2010 to restore some checks and balances on this man they will rightly perceive as a pro-abortion zealot.

Clinton's pollster argued strongly against acting on abortion policy as one of the new administration's first pieces of business, but he went ahead regardless. The debacle of the 1994 House elections for the Democrats began at that moment.

Let us see if Barack makes the same mistake.

Steven W. Mosher is the President of the Population Research Institute and the author of Population Control: Real Costs and Illusory Benefits.

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