Two years ago, ultra-conservative Christian fanatics forced Junior–not that he wouldn’t have done it anyway–to cut off the US share of financing intended to support the UN’s family planning/population control efforts. Charging that providing birth control information was virtually the same as advocating abortion (a standard anti-abortion tactic), they intimidated the Admin into withholding $34Mil in funds for the UN agency responsible for those efforts. Now, under intense election-year pressure from the same radical conservative Christian groups, the BA is threatening every govt or agency that works with them.
Pressed by opponents of abortion, the administration withdrew its support from a major international conference on health issues this month and has privately warned other groups, like Unicef, that address health issues that their financing could be jeopardized if they insist on working with the agency, the United Nations Population Fund.The administration also has indicated that it hopes to persuade the United Nations’ Latin American caucus to back away from a common position on population and development that was adopted in Santiago, Chile, in March on the grounds that the document’s discussion of reproductive rights could be interpreted as promoting abortion.
The actions are part of an administration effort to ensure that international agencies and private groups do not promote abortions overseas. In its first days in office, the Bush administration reintroduced the Reagan-era that critics call the “global gag rule,” which denies money to groups that even discuss abortion as an option, except in cases that threaten life or involve rape or incest.
The administration’s position has frustrated some United Nations officials and family planning advocates, who have complained that advances in education and awareness on reproductive issues are being undermined by the United States, where abortion is legal. Those critics, most of whom spoke anonymously because the United States government is the leading contributor to their agencies, charged that the administration was pandering to conservative supporters, and said that doing so placed the United States in alliance with tradition-bound Islamic countries and the Holy See.
Radical conservative religious groups are, in effect, holding US participation in efforts to slow global population growth hostage to their private beliefs, beliefs not shared by a good deal of the world’s population. Not that that bothers them any. But for once the Democrats aren’t standing mute on the sidelines waiting for the whole thing to blow over.
In a letter to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on Friday, four Democratic members of Congress demanded a legal explanation for withholding money from the fund and for the “threatened defunding of the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund.”Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, a New York Democrat at the fore of efforts to restore support to the fund, said the administration was jeopardizing programs in women’s and family health that should not be considered contentious.
“When will the president’s right wing be satisfied – when they close down the U.N.?” she asked, adding that the tough White House stance contrasts with its appeals to the United Nations for help in the Iraq war
Not to put too fine a point on it, Carolyn: Yes, that’s exactly what they want, and No, they still won’t be satisfied. These groups are almost all closet theocrats and the truth is they won’t be satisfied until the US is a theocracy run by fundamentalist ministers instead of secular politicians. While their feral opposition to abortion is genuine, it’s also a stalking-horse, a way in through the backdoor for religious control of politics first, and later of the govt itself, openly and literally turning the US into a ‘Christian nation’.
Whether Junior wins or loses, keeping them at bay will be our next great challenge.