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Executive Orders to Save Lives

On January 22, 1993, with a few pen strokes, a new 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 RU-486 approval process.

Clinton then restored funding to the United Nations Population Fund, despite their continued 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.

On January 22, 2001, as tens of thousands of pro-lifers gathered in Washington, DC for the annual March for Life, newly inaugurated President George W. Bush signed an order to reinstate the Mexico City Policy, barring organizations that promote or perform abortions — or lobby for the legalization of same — from receiving government funding.

PRI applauds President Bush for the action and urges him to use his authority as president to continue promoting the cause of life. PRI respectfully suggests that in his first weeks in office, he also issue the following Executive Orders.

Reinstate the Family Impact Policy of President Reagan and 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 contrary evidence, that he wanted to make abortion rare. Pres. Bush can help ensure the recent decline in the abortion rate continues.

Rescind National Security Study Memorandum 200, which wrongly asserted that population growth in the developing world was a threat to US national security. This would be a first step towards repudiating the worldview than treats the people of the world, in Bill McGurn’s words, “As rutting animals breeding to their own destruction while they wait beneath the table of the West for the crumbs to drop.”1 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, agents of their own development.

By signing these Executive Orders, President George W. Bush would demonstrate to America and to 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.


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

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