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Executive Orders to Save Lives

December 29, 2000

Volume 2/ Number 23 

Dear Colleague:

From his very first day in office, Clinton used Executive Orders to encourage the spread of abortion and reduce the birth rate. George W. Bush should not hesitate to use his own authority as president to help make abortion truly rare and population control a thing of the past.

Steven W. Mosher, President

Executive Orders to Save Lives

On January 22, 1993, with a few strokes of a pen, a newly inaugurated president undid 20 years of pro-life efforts on behalf of families and unborn children. Clinton’s initial flurry of Executive Orders abolished the Mexico City policy, lifted the ban on fetal tissue research and harvesting, allowed abortions in US military hospitals, permitted federally funded health clinics to do pro-abortion counseling and referrals, and sought to speed up the approval process for RU-486.

In the days that followed, Clinton restored funding to the United Nations Population Fund, despite that organization’s continuing involvement in China’s horrific one-child policy, and abolished President Reagan’s policy of requiring that every proposed federal law and regulation be evaluated with regard to its impact on the family. Radical feminists and population controllers were ecstatic. Both at home and abroad, families and unborn children suffered.

Congress eventually blocked abortions at military installations and the use of fetal tissue in medical research, but much remains to be done.

George W. Bush should use his own authority as president to promote the cause of life. On the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, as perhaps 100,000 people march down Constitution Avenue towards the Supreme Court on behalf of the unborn, he should issue the following Executive Orders:

Executive Order One would reinstate the Mexico City Policy, which bars organizations that promote or perform abortions-or lobby for the legalization of same-from receiving government funding. The last time around, the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s refusal to abide by Mexico City cost it tens of millions of dollars.

Executive Order Two would not only reinstate the Family Impact policy of President Reagan, it would broaden it to include the life issues. Under this order, every new federal regulation or proposed federal law would be evaluated not just for its impact upon the family, but also for its impact on the abortion rate. Clinton insisted – despite all evidence to the contrary – that he wanted to make abortion rare. President Bush can actually help ensure that the recent decline in the abortion rate continues.

Executive Order Three would rescind National Security Study Memorandum 200, which wrongly asserted that population growth in the developing world was a threat to the national security of the U.S. This would be a first step towards repudiating the worldview that treats the people of the world, in Bill McGurn words, “as rutting animals breeding to their own destruction while they wait beneath the table of the West for the crumbs to drop.” What the poor of Africa, Asia, and Latin America need is not another billion dollars in condoms, but the opportunity provided by the rule of law, property rights, and an adequate infrastructure (roads, power, clean water) to become, as it were, the agents of their own development.

By signing these executive orders on his first day in office, President George W. Bush would demonstrate to America and the world the depth of his commitment to life. These orders would give concrete expression to the promise he made at the Republican National Convention to protect all Americans, including the elderly and the unborn. They would help undo some of the damage done to families and children over the past eight years. And they would send a signal to the developing world that the new administration is not the enemy of their children and their families but is committed to working for a better world for all of us.


William McGurn, “A Gospel of Freedom,” Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2000.

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