United States to Fund Abortions Abroad

January 26, 2009 | 119 comments
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By executive order, President Obama has authorized government funding of abortions overseas (funding abortions in the United States is still illegal thanks to the Hyde Amendment). He described this taxpayer funding of abortion as a non-partisan measure that will move us beyond the stale, tired abortion debates of the past.

In another non-partisan gesture, the executive order was delayed for one day.

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119 Responses to United States to Fund Abortions Abroad

  1. Alison Moore Smith on January 26, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    And what, pray tell, are the “stale, tired abortion debates” he refers to?

  2. S.P. Bailey on January 26, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    I am in favor of U.S. funding for abortions of in utero terrorists.

  3. Kent G. Budge on January 26, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Just a week in office, and Obama has already committed his first atrocity.

    It’s going to be a long four years.

  4. Geoff B on January 26, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Whether or not you support abortion rights, I hope we can agree that government financing of abortion is a problematic issue (ie, forcing people who may not support abortion to pay for such abortions through their tax dollars — I have exactly the same problem with capital punishment, which is one of the reasons I oppose capital punishment in most cases). It is extremely troubling to me (as somebody who had some hope for moderation in the Obama administration) that this would be among his first acts.

  5. Ben H on January 26, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    It is illegal for us to give government funding to abortions inside the country, but we are happy to do it outside the country? That is either nonsensical or very ugly. Of course, this inconsistency may not last long under the new administration.

  6. Tim J on January 26, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    I don’t think you guys get it. This is all part of the larger plan to help the economy. It goes hand-in-hand with Pelosi’s explanation of why contraception and family planning is part of the forthcoming Stimulus Package:

    “The family planning services reduce cost,” Pelosi said, “One of the elements of this package is assistance to the states. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children’s health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those – one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.”

    “So no apologies for that?” I asked her.

    “No apologies. No,” Pelosi said. “And this is a, to stimulate the economy, is an economic recovery package and as we put it forth we have to deal with the consequences of the downturn in our economy. Food stamps, unemployment insurance, some of the initiatives you just mentioned. Believe it or not, they’re the right thing to do but they also stimulate the economy.”

    http://blogs.abcnews.com/george/2009/01/pelosi-defends.html

  7. Steve Evans on January 26, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    The more things change….

  8. Sam B. on January 26, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Adam,
    Really? I only skimmed the article but, outside of a Republican Congressman’s statement, there was no indication that we were funding overseas abortions. As I read the article, President Obama ended a policy that prevented overseas organizations that performed abortions from receiving U.S. aid. He neither funded nor committed money to abortions.

    I could well be wrong, but don’t think I am. Frankly, unless you’re just trying to inflame people who agree with you, missing (or misrepresenting) distinctions like this doesn’t attract people to your side.

  9. Frank McIntyre on January 26, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Sam, I think the concern is the inherent fungibility of aid.

  10. Sam B. on January 26, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Or in other words, assuming that abortion is per se bad, how does it naturally follow that funding foreign organizations that provide abortions (assuming that they also do other things besides provide abortions) is per se bad?

  11. CatherineWO on January 26, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    I agree with Sam B. I don’t find anything in the policy wording that states that the U.S. will fund overseas abortions. I am adamently pro-life, but I believe we undercut our message when we buy into misrepresentations.

  12. Sam B. on January 26, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Frank,
    So what? That aid is fungible doesn’t mean that we should help fund an organization that I’m totally making up that provides shelter for battered women and provides abortions for some of those women. Maybe we shouldn’t, but I don’t see where the choice is either-or. Of course, while I believe that in almost all situations, abortion is per se bad, I also don’t see it as the end-all be-all of policy concerns.

  13. Sam B. on January 26, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Actually, what about this hypothetical situation? Country A has 100 abortions/year. There is empirical evidence that funding Organization B, which counsels, provides adoption services, and provides abortions, will reduce Country A’s abortions to 75/year. Because we have limited money, in the alternative, we can fund Organization C, which counsels and provides adoption services, but does not provide abortions. We have empirical evidence that our funding Organization C will lower the abortions to 85/year, and impressive reduction, but not as much as Organization B.

  14. Frank McIntyre on January 26, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    And is it generally the case that funding organizations that provide abortions decreases the rate of abortions? If so, that would certainly be pertinent information.

    Of course, presumably one could simply copy the abortion reducing parts of the organization’s agenda and get even _more_ reductions in abortion because you would no longer be indirectly funding abortions.

    Taaadaaaa!

  15. Sam B. on January 26, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Frank,
    Why not? It’s my hypothetical world, and my hypothetical assumes that shutting down Organization B won’t diminish abortions.

    Bjut what if providing adoption services was a higher-margin business, but people generally preferred abortions, so they went to the provider of abortions? Then the provider, using a bait-and-switch, convinces them instead into the high-margin adoption? I’m not saying by any means that this is the case, because I both doubt it and frankly don’t have any information about the economics of family planning, but I am interested in a response.

  16. Geoff B on January 26, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Sam B, referring to your #8, please see this article from International Planned Parenthood, which, by its own admission, promotes abortion internationally. IPPF says it lost $100 million during the Bush administration — money that went at least in part to funding abortions with taxpayer money. We may agree that International Planned Parenthood does some good things, but promoting and funding abortion is part of its charter.

    http://www.ippf.org/en/News/Press-releases/President+Barack+Obama+rescinds+the+Global+Gag+Rule.htm

  17. James on January 26, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    The title of this entry might as well have been “Obama flies to Europe to kill babies.”

  18. john willis on January 26, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Your title is misleading. The 1973 Helms amendment forbids direct funding of abortions overseas with United States Aid. What the executive order will do is allow United States aid to go to non-governmental agenicies for family planing programs that counsel and even provide abortions. Again, no United States funds will go to directly pay for abortions overseas as a result of the executive order.
    I would hope that those who are really interested in reducing the number of abortions in the United States and not scoring political points will support programs such as those proposed by the active Temple recomend holding Senator Harry Reid which expand acess to contraception and comprehensive sex-educations programs along with support for adoptions and for support of umaarried mothers who choose to keep their babies.
    To say your want to reduce abortions while opposing access to contraception by both married and umarried women is at best illogical and at worst hypocritical.

  19. Peter LLC on January 26, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    This just in: inherently fungible American tax money IS the root of all evil!

  20. Rob Perkins on January 26, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    I’ve long thought about it as a lesser-of-evils kind of calculus, somewhat the way Sam B. puts it. If the difference between funding these groups and not funding these groups is the same as having or not having any family planning services at all, I may choose to stomach the family planning service which talks about abortion over, say, some foreign ethic which directs people to kill women who have been raped and made pregnant.

    (And no, I don’t like running number strategies on issues related to abortions. And I know I’ve constructed something of a strawman, there.)

    It’s only, what? Day 6? There is time enough to see whether Obama’s rhetoric about working to prevent pregnancies in the first place translates to a reduction in convenience abortions.

    In the meantime, what he wins is quiescence from an entire sub-faction of the leftists in the United States, at a time when we don’t really need their hyper-ideological distractions.

  21. Sam B. on January 26, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    Geoff,
    That’s fair, but nonetheless, Adam is horribly misrepresenting the article and what Obama did (at least, by my reading of the article). Perhaps he made possible the funding by the U.S. of abortions, either directly or because of the fungibility of money, but he did not (at least yet) in any way commit the U.S. to funding abortions.

    I can’t agree that IPP does good things–I know nothing about the organization, and so I also can’t agree that it doesn’t do bad things. I just don’t know. But I do know that any person misrepresenting political events to score points turns off people who may be on the fence about the issue, even people who would lean toward the speaker’s view.

  22. Sam B. on January 26, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    (sorry–doesn’t do “bad” things. That’ll teach me to try to type while at work)

  23. Frank McIntyre on January 26, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    “Why not? It’s my hypothetical world, and my hypothetical assumes that shutting down Organization B won’t diminish abortions.”

    Because the optimal thing to do in _this_ world is what I am interested in. Which may or may not be the same as the optimal thing in SamBland.

    “Bjut what if providing adoption services was a higher-margin business, but people generally preferred abortions, so they went to the provider of abortions? Then the provider, using a bait-and-switch, convinces them instead into the high-margin adoption? ”

    That would be downright cool to find empirically. It is the sort of unexpected thing that economists thrive on. My vague recollection for the U.S. is that, with some hyperbole, Planned Parenthood aborts pretty much everything that walks in the door. So I’m really doubting that abortion providers are baiting and switching into adoption so much that funding them will lower abortions. Adoption numbers are so low compared to abortion numbers, stateside, anyway, that the hypothetical becomes hard to support.

  24. Hunter on January 26, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Adam Greenwood:

    Yawn.

  25. Sam B. on January 26, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    Frank,
    You may be interested in the optimal thing to do in *this* world; I’m interested in the moral calculus of people who see this change as an abortionacolypse. But I’m convinced that you have enough imagination–and are less literalistic than the pre-teen boys I teach in Primary–to come up with a plausible situation in which an organization that, among other things, provides abortions is capable of reducing the number of overall abortions.

  26. Tim on January 26, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    I agree with Sam B., in that I really can’t find the “funding abortions” part of the whole thing.
    Go back and re-read the article. It’s not there.

  27. Geoff B on January 26, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Sam B, I still don’t get your viewpoint. The Reagan (and both Bush administrations) had a policy that prohibited IPPF (among other such groups) from receiving funding. These groups promote and, in some countries, perform abortions. The reasoning was that the U.S. should not be funding groups that promote abortion and perform abortions abroad.

    During the Clinton and Obama years, we will be providing funding to groups that promote and perform abortions (as the IPPF admits on its own web site).

    It is true that these groups do other things, such as provide contraception. It is theoretically possible that we could agree to provide money to groups that provide contraception and not abortion (I would have no problem with that personally). But the fact remains that the U.S. government will now fund and promote abortion abroad (through its funding of these groups). What am I missing?

  28. Frank McIntyre on January 26, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    If your point is that the outcome “more abortions” is not a logical necessity, fine. But, as I said, I am more interested in the empirical reality of what the funding change will do, rather than what it may hypothetically do.

    Sam, suppose such a mythical beast as you contemplate exists, yet is rare compared to the many agencies for which providing more funding leads to more abortions. Then the number of abortions still rises with the new program, funded by the fungibile U.S. tax dollars. I think that is the point of concern.

    For example, it is estimated by Paul Collier that somewhere on the order of 40% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s military budget is “funged” aid money. That is a point of real concern and my concern over the general outcome doesn’t disappear if you tell me that it is quite plausible that there exists some country that spent all the money on roads.

  29. bbell on January 26, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    I disagree that the US does not fund abortions in the US. Several hundred million dollars are sent annually to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood then commences to abort a few hundred thousand fetuses annually.

    I do ageee that this executive order does in fact fund abortions. Money is after all fungible.

  30. sister blah 2 on January 26, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    The title of this post and summary of the Executive Order are factually incorrect. You may not like Obama’s policy, but honesty is the best policy.

    Google obstetric fistula and you can quickly see how important funding of overseas women’s health organizations is to women and their families. The money goes to these other very worthwhile efforts; it does not pay for abortions.

    Geoff B:

    It is true that these groups do other things, such as provide contraception. It is theoretically possible that we could agree to provide money to groups that provide contraception and not abortion (I would have no problem with that personally).

    Great! Because that is exactly what this executive order does.

  31. bbell on January 26, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    Correction. Planned Parenthood gets about 100MM from the Feds annually. Performs 300K abortions and refers about 5K for adoption annually.

  32. Steve Evans on January 26, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Can we get back to discussing how awful the site looks? At least that was something new to talk about.

  33. Sam B. on January 26, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    I have to confess, I’m not moved by the money-is-fungible argument. Of course money is fungible. I give it all the time to organizations, in spite of the fact that I disagree with one or more of the things they ultimately do with their money. bbell, taking the money-is-fungible argument, you presumably helped Google be able to oppose (support?) Prop. 8 because you presumably have done something in the last year that caused Google to earn money. The calculus ultimately becomes, imho, whether the good an organization does (or, in the case of Google, the utility to me) outweighs the bad they do. So, in the end, I agree with sister blah 2 (and Peter LLC way up in 19).

  34. Geoff B on January 26, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    Sister blah, I am still missing something. IPPF says on its own web site it funds and promotes abortion (in addition to providing contraception). So, what exactly is not factual about the title and summary of the article?

  35. chris p on January 26, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    hunter:

    agreed.

  36. Alison Moore Smith on January 26, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    sister blah, et. al., could you please explain to the (apparently) stupid out here how giving money to an organization that performs abortions, “does not pay for abortions.”

    I realize I’m probably an idiot, but as a business owner, I don’t see how money coming into the bank doesn’t translate to money going out for my expenses, whatever they may be.

  37. chris p on January 26, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    also, can people here please say something insightful (or, at the very least, amusing)…..the rehashing of the same arguments/grudges is really, really boring. T&S is quickly working its way out of my blog rotation.

  38. Alison Moore Smith on January 26, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Right on, chris p, because your last two comments were so insightful.

  39. Alison Moore Smith on January 26, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Sam B. I think it’s reasonable to make a distinction between organizations that, for example, perform abortions and ones that support organizations that support organizations that do so. Otherwise you’re going to live in the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon and be immobilized.

    The calculus ultimately becomes, imho, whether the good an organization does outweighs the bad they do.

    Given the stats, where do you think Planned Parenthood fits in that model?

  40. James on January 26, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    re: #18 “What the executive order will do is allow United States aid to go to non-governmental agenicies for family planing programs that counsel and even provide abortions. Again, no United States funds will go to directly pay for abortions overseas as a result of the executive order.”

    You do realize that U.S. aid is U.S. tax dollars? If those dollars are given to an NGO that provides abortions, then the U.S. funds are indeed directly supporting those activities even if you can’t directly trace the serial numbers on the checks from the treasury to the abortionist. The argument that funds are not being used to support abortions doesn’t pass basic accounting.

  41. DeeAnn on January 26, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    So, it’s ok if I donate to a Middle Eastern Charity that also funds terrorism as long as the funds I donate don’t go towards terrorism? Is that the argument I’m hearing?

  42. sister blah 2 on January 26, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Alison, Geoff–By law, the money can not be spent on abortions. Under Bush’s policy, if Planned Parenthood (who we all provides abortions) wants to build a facility in Africa whose sole purpose is to treat obstetric fistula, they would be banned from getting a grant from the US government to do that. Which makes no sense. Who cares who buildings the fistula treatment facility? So the way it would work under Obama’s policy is that as long as the grant money is for things that aren’t abortion-related, they can get money. But if it is abortion-related, they have to find some other way of paying for that (private donations, etc).

    To use your expenses analogy, Alison, it would be like your employer reimbursing you for airfare for a company trip. But if you buy alcoholic drinks while you’re on the flight, they won’t reimburse you for that. If you use your own money for the drinks, and someone wrote a blog post entitled “Alison’s employer funding beers!!” it would be pretty misleading.

  43. sister blah 2 on January 26, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    typo: that should be “who cares who builds” not “who cares who buildings”…

  44. Steve Evans on January 26, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    “I realize I’m probably an idiot, but as a business owner, I don’t see how…”

    It probably depends on what kind of business you’re owning. Lots of business owners are idiots.

  45. Geoff B on January 26, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    Sister blah, if that’s true, then I’m with you. Can you provide me a link that proves/discusses that? IPPF on their web site say they actively promote and fund abortions and that they will now receive funding. So I’m not convinced (but willing to be convinced).

  46. Aluwid on January 26, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Sister Blah, your analogy doesn’t fit. In this case the controversial action is done by the organization itself, not by employees acting outside the mission of the organization.

    I think it all comes down to how reprehensible you view the controversial acts. Imagine instead, that rather than providing and performing abortions, these same organizations were forcefully performing female circumcisions in third-world countries. Would we care that the money to pay for the circumcisions came from private sources? Or would we consider the entire mission of the organization to be tainted by the presence of this activity, and refuse to fund any part of it despite any good actions they might perform?

    Why don’t we view abortion in the same way? Why doesn’t that make these organizations untouchable as well?

  47. Raymond Takashi Swenson on January 26, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Clearly, the restriction was set up to provide an incentive for organizations to NOT include abortion iin their programs. Obama’s action removes that incentive. There ARE organizations that provide health services internationally that do NOT promote and perform abortion. As a taxpayer I would prefer my tax money went to those orgsanizations, rather than ones that don’t mind killing babies.

  48. DavidH on January 26, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    My understanding is that the State of California funds abortions under its Medicaid program for nontherapeutic abortions, as do several other states. I suppose that if the Government of the United States provides any funds to the State of California (for education, say, or highways), this means (because money is fungible) that the Federal Government is paying for nontherapeutic abortions. To be consistent, all Federal funds to the State of California should be suspended until the State stops funding nontherapeutic abortions.

  49. DavidH on January 26, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    I should add that I would prefer that funding be restricted to organizations that do not counsel or provide nontherapeutic abortions overseas. But I do not think that providing funding restricted to nonabortion purposes is the moral equivalent of funding nontherapeutic abortions.

  50. Kaimi on January 26, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Remember that the Federal government also subsidizes, through tax exemption, an organization that allows for abortion in cases of rape, incest, or mother’s life or health (yes, that nefarious health exception). The dollars that go to that organization are fungible, and may well allow it to move forward with its nefarious abortion policy.

  51. Naismith on January 26, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Please see this report on how heavy-handed and broad-brushed the Bush policy was.

    http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/tgr/05/4/gr050413.html

    The US refused to pay its obligations to the UNFPA, which does much good in many countries around the world. Women have died in childbirth because our country withheld its fundng. It lets you conservatives feel more righteous, sure, but it isn’t good for the health of women and children.

    I can accept that when LDS humanitarian services sends school kits to Gaza, that some of the pencils and paper might be used by terrorists to plan an attack. But overall, school children benefit, so I can tolerate the notion that some of them might do great evil. Same with funding for UNFPA.

  52. Rob Perkins on January 26, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    Tax exemption is not a government subsidy; it’s a tax exemption. Recall, please, that the Church turned down (or didn’t apply for) the faith-based initiative funding, which would have actually been a subsidy.

    Please, let’s not mince words or otherwise equivocate. It confuses the issue.

  53. Mark Brown on January 26, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    Every day, at the LDS hospital in Salt Lake City, they perform a procedure known as dilation and curretage. If this law had been applied in the U.S., the LDS hospital would have been ineligble for government funds. How do we feel about a hospital which bears our church’s name engaging in this practice?

    In addition, some of our tithing money funds LDS Family Services. In some cases, LDSFS recommends divorce. How do we feel about our tithing subsidizing the breakup of families?

  54. Mark Brown on January 26, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    Rob Perkins, it’s all fungible, right?

  55. Dan on January 26, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    Silly, silly silly.

    Every time America switches between Republicans and Democrats, this is among the very first thing reversed. It is plain silly. A Democrat turns the spigot on, and the Republican turns the spigot off. As the world turns…

  56. Rob Perkins on January 26, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    Mark Brown (#54) — Equating tax exemption with a government subsidy implies a right by the government upon a portion of freewill offerings to a charity, which does not exist.

    Dan is right, though: The pendulum swings. Obama is making a show of listening carefully to Republicans this week. Let’s see if he actually incorporates any of their ideas in upcoming laws.

    It will tell us whether he’s open to motion on the abortion question.

  57. clark on January 26, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    Isn’t this one of those things that everytime a Democrat gets elected funding is restored and everytime a Republican is elected it gets revoked?

    While I’m not happy about funding of abortions, even if indirectly, I’m also don’t think the “taxpayer paying for abortion” argument works either. Do we complain that a pacifist’s taxes were used to fund Iraq and Afghanistan wars? No. Why? Because it was democratically done. Ditto with this. Everyone knew what was coming with Obama. He didn’t hide being pro choice. And that this would happen was widely discussed prior to the election. People made a decision that it was still better to vote for Obama.

  58. clark on January 26, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    That said, given the realities of the Obama administration I hope abortion foes work together to try and reduce abortions by making better access to birth control more widespread and by educating the public.

  59. Dan on January 26, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    Rob,

    Obama is making a show of listening carefully to Republicans this week. Let’s see if he actually incorporates any of their ideas in upcoming laws.

    Why should he? America overwhelmingly rejected the Republican way. Why should anyone give a darn about what they have to say, particularly as they have had eight years to set things up as they desired. What a mess they made. No one should listen to a word Republicans have to say right now.

  60. Dan on January 26, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Clark,

    I hope abortion foes work together to try and reduce abortions by making better access to birth control more widespread and by educating the public.

    That is by far the best way to be successful on this matter.

  61. jjohnsen on January 26, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    If you ignore Adam’s inflammatory post and instead read the article and the back ground you will see this is great news for the health of women all around the world. Thanks for updating us on one of the positive changes this new administration is making Mr. Greenwood.

  62. Zack on January 26, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    What an enlightening discussion! Isn’t the Internet great?! If it weren’t for it, Adam Greenwood would have to keep this inane drivel to himself. Wouldn’t that be a tragedy.

    In all seriousness, though, I just added T&S to my RSS feeds, something enlightening will go a long way toward keeping it there.

  63. clark on January 26, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    Dan, I think America overwhelmingly rejected Bush and the corrupt and incompetent Republican leadership. I’m not at all convinced they rejected the “Republican way” in the sense of ideology. And, given how Democrats are reacting to their own corruption, I suspect they may end up where Republicans were even faster than Republicans did. (Quick – how many times did the ethics committee meet to investigate Rangel? — the most ethical congress ever indeed…)

    The problem is that many progressives don’t merely want a stimulus package. They want this huge New Deal with atronomical deficit spending to last a decade or more. This after justly criticizing Bush for his deficits. What they don’t answer is why anyone would buy this debt. And what position it’ll leave the country in. Put an other way they seem hell bent on reproducing all the hubris, corruption and economic mismanagement that characterized the last 8 years.

    I’m hoping and praying that Obama, who justly seems pragmatic, will realize that he could do even more damage than Bush. We need short term large stimulus rather than these large long term pie in the sky projects driven by ideology.

  64. Rob Perkins on January 26, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    #59 — He should listen, because it’s the right thing to do. If the ideas are bad, or would make no sense in a larger context, then he has listened, but considered otherwise. He won, after all.

    He should listen, because 48% of American voters still chose the other guy. It follows, then, that listening would endear the losers better than treating them like their votes counted for nothing. 52% is not a supermajority mandate.

  65. mary on January 27, 2009 at 12:18 am

    BTW–Apostles Ballard and Uchtdorf were not at the Inauguration as invited dignitaries from the Church. They stood in line with the rest of us who got tickets through Bennett from Utah. We talked with them–they were there all on their own, just like the rest of us not because they represented the Church.
    They are Democrats who support Obama.

  66. Aluwid on January 27, 2009 at 12:36 am

    Mary,

    Elder Ballard and President Uchtdorf were representing the LDS Church at the inauguration:

    “Elder M. Russell Ballard and I were very pleased to have been able to attend today’s historic inauguration of the 44th president of the United States of America. In doing so, we represented President Thomas S. Monson and the entire Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” President Uchtdorf said.

    http://www.newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/news-releases-stories/church-leaders-attend-president-obama-s-inauguration

  67. Jeremy on January 27, 2009 at 1:21 am

    Until I got to Sister Blah’s comment #42, I was almost starting to miss the arguments between Twilight fans and David Archuleta fans. Ugh.

    I would love to see some follow up (pro or con) on the arguments in #42. Because it really is important to understand the vehicles through which the aid in question is administered. If these funds are distributed through directed grants for specific projects, that it really would seem silly to not give a grant to an organization for, say, an immunization clinic, if that same organization were elsewhere providing abortion information or services.

    That seems like a worthwhile angle with which to pursue this issue. Otherwise, I find myself strangely fatigued by outrage fatigue.

  68. Alison Moore Smith on January 27, 2009 at 1:54 am

    Steve Adams, I don’t see how your response relates to what I actually said. Perhaps you can clarify? FWIW none of our businesses are asking for a bailout.

    Alison, Geoff–By law, the money can not be spent on abortions.

    And how do they enforce such a law? Are you saying the government writes a check to, say, the utility company, so that PP no longer has to pay utilities and can use “utility money” to support abortions, instead of government money? Where I come from they call that money laundering.

    Who cares who buildings the fistula treatment facility?

    Well, I kinda do. Given the millions of babies lost to PP every year and all. I’m guessing if you put the money out there to open bid with the no abortion string attached, you could still get some takers.

    As for UNFPA, I found the administration’s point of view at least as intriguing as Guttmacher’s.

  69. Steve Adams on January 27, 2009 at 2:05 am

    Alison, you had wondered aloud in #36 whether or not you were an idiot. I was trying to help you figure that one out, nothing more. Your experience as a business owner will only help you not be an idiot to the extent your business isn’t stupid and you’re not an idiot in the way you run it. If you own a really dumb business and are a complete moron in your ownership, I suppose you would be an idiot after all.

  70. Mark Brown on January 27, 2009 at 7:47 am

    Alison,

    You seem to be missing the point. The Mexico City Policy refuses any funding to any organization which “promotes or performs” abortions. Since LDS hospital performs abortions, it would be be inelibigle for funds if it were located overseas. Do you think that would be a good thing?

    It is pretty cheap and easy to express faux outrage on The Foremost Mormon Blog [sic] and take potshots at a politician with whom we disagree. I would be much more inclined to believe the outrage were real if those professing it would write to the Presiding Bishop’s office and the office of The First Presidency and demand an answer as to why the church lends it name and support to an organization which provides abortions. You could even share your letter and any responses here on the blog. Or as an alternative, we could continue to howl at the full moon here for another hundred comments.

  71. Adam Greenwood on January 27, 2009 at 8:27 am

    The Mexico City policy had an exception for rape, incest, and life-threatening situations. You may not know this, and didn’t bother finding out, but I’m pretty sure KW does, which makes his argument in this case border on sophistry. It was effective, though, at least in your case.

  72. John Mansfield on January 27, 2009 at 9:18 am

    So who specificly got money under Clinton and had it cut off under G.W. Bush? Names?

  73. Mark Brown on January 27, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Adam,

    The Family Research Council says this:

    In as little words as possible, the Mexico City policy halts U.S. family planning funds from going to foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that perform abortions or “actively promote” abortion as a method of family planning in other countries….What they CAN still do under the Mexico City Policy is provide referrals for abortion in cases of rape, incest, or where the mother’s life would be endangered if the unborn child were carried to term;

    LDS hospital may also provide referrals but there is no getting around the fact that it actually performs abortions and would there be excluded under this policy. If I am misunderstanding the policy, please provide a citation, but in the meantime, I think FRC is as good a source as any.

  74. John Mansfield on January 27, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Here’s something I didn’t know about:

    The Biden Amendment
    No foreign assistance funds may be used to pay for any biomedical research which relates, in whole or in part, to methods of, or the performance of, abortions or involuntary sterilization as a means of family planning.

    Sources: Section 104(f) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended; Annual Foreign Operations Appropriations Acts.

  75. John Mansfield on January 27, 2009 at 9:35 am

    Mark Brown, it makes sense to me to be more nuanced with domestic spending then with donations to organizations in other countries with limited oversight. This is just aid, so the health services of the recipient countries should fill the gaps for anything that matters that the aid is missing.

  76. John Mansfield on January 27, 2009 at 9:50 am

    I’m looking at the USAID budget for 2002, which includes information on spending back to 1999. It looks like Bush’s reimplimentation of the Mexico City policy didn’t impede about the same amount of spending on family planning, about $400 million annually.

  77. John Mansfield on January 27, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Russell Nelson, General Conference, April 1985:

    Another excuse some use to justify abortion relates to population control. Many in developing nations unknowingly ascribe their lack of prosperity to overpopulation. While they grovel in ignorance of God and his commandments, they may worship objects of their own creation (or nothing at all), while unsuccessfully attempting to limit their population by the rampant practice of abortion. They live in squalor, oblivious to the divine teaching—stated in the scriptures not once, but thirty-four times—that people will prosper in the land only if they obey the commandments of God.

    If one believes this, supporting family planning agencies which promote or provide abortion is a fairly repugnant thing for the United States to do to a developing nation, for beyond any benefit of any good things those particular agencies may be doing..

  78. Naismith on January 27, 2009 at 11:07 am

    “If one believes this, supporting family planning agencies which promote or provide abortion is a fairly repugnant thing for the United States to do to a developing nation, for beyond any benefit of any good things those particular agencies may be doing..”

    So the lives of women dying in childbirth because of the withheld funds do not matter?

    This is so ugly and sexist, I can’t find words. Oh, yeah, there’s one: repugnant.

    It is repugnant to me that you would allow women and babies to die rather than allow any funds to trickle into an organization that might provide abortions, which is never a first choice and rarely undertaken lightly.

    There is blood on your hands. You can’t get away from it.

  79. John Mansfield on January 27, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Naismith, we’re all going to die, and generally men die earlier than women. We don’t have to promote sin on our way to the grave.

  80. Brad Kramer on January 27, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Naismith, we’re all going to die, so even if a few women die during childbirth, well that’s just the price we (they) pay for our being morally superior.

  81. John Mansfield on January 27, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    “So the lives of women dying in childbirth because of the withheld funds do not matter?”

    What withheld funds? As I indicated in comment 76, money still goes to family planning and other health care whether its being denied to abortion providers or not. For what I recall, Naismith, you are involved in birth-related health care. Why do you think health care can’t be provided without also providing or promoting abortion?

  82. Frank McIntyre on January 27, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    “So the lives of women dying in childbirth because of the withheld funds do not matter?”

    After everyone has climbed off their high horse, I’d be interested in just how many more women (if any) died in childbirth because aid money was redirected to non-abortion groups. Also, how many abortions (if any) were avoided?

    For example, John Mansfield claimed that we spent about the same amount on family planning as before ($400M). So why should I believe more women are dying than before?

  83. Mark N. on January 27, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    I am in favor of U.S. funding for abortions of in utero terrorists.

    Thank goodness for the Department of Pre-crime.

  84. Steve V. on January 27, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Frank,

    How do you propose we do that? For example, how does one estimate the number of women who die from botched, back-alley abortions and add that to the tally of the number of women who die in childbirth keeping in mind that this will be determined in parts of the world where vital statistics are a back-of-the-envelope calculation?

    I actually like Sam’s argument. If abortion is indeed directly correlated with poverty and inversely correlated with the level of education of women seeking services, then Sam’s original argument is pretty good. Those organizations providing access to birth control and counseling should have a positive effect on the number (i.e., decrease) of abortions. But then again, I come from the pro-child, pro-choice perspective within the church.

  85. Kaimi on January 27, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Adam,

    The church’s stance on abortion is more flexible than the Mexico City policy, and you know it.

    The church’s stance on abortion includes a health exception. The Mexico City policy does not.

    For that matter, you yourself have been extremely critical of health exceptions, in numerous posts and comments made on this and other blogs.

  86. Kaimi on January 27, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    While it may not be available in Adam’s plethora of abortion posts, readers can find official church policy on the health exception, as well as partial birth abortion, in a recent post at BCC.

  87. Frank McIntyre on January 27, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Steve, the amount of funding did not change, it just changed who got the funding. It is rather unlikely that abortion clinics result in a net decline in abortions.

    “For example, how does one estimate the number of women who die from botched, back-alley abortions…”

    We are not talking about changing the legality of abortion so why exactly are people getting “back-alley” abortions?

    Kaimi, not all “health exceptions” are created equal.

  88. Starfoxy on January 27, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Frank, So the funding doesn’t go to planned parenthood, and instead goes to, say, a Catholic based charity; A Catholic based charity that, in addition to not performing abortions, refuses to distribute birth control of any sort.

    Suddenly no one has access to condoms, diaphrams, IUDs or Pills and lots of women who don’t want to be pregnant become pregnant, and they now want abortions.

    One of the best ways to reduce the abortion rate is to increase access to contraception.

    And people are getting ‘back-alley abortions’ because the only health clinic or hospital they have access to doesn’t provide abortions because the hospital don’t want to lose US aid.

  89. Carborendum on January 27, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Why can’t we place a percentage of abortions limit on some organizations? If 50% of the women that come to Organaization A end up getting abortions throught them, that is too high. Since the percentage of “health exceptions” is fairly low, the percentage of abortions that an Organization A performs on all women who walk in their doors should also be low.

    The difficulty is deciding on the number. 1%, 10%, 25%? But the high percentage that Planned Parenthood performs is unacceptable.

    If we cannot work out a compromise, and I’m left with choosing between the rampant abortions we have today vs. the few women dying in childbirth, I would choose the latter. But why is that the choice being shoved on us? Why can’t we work a compromise?

  90. Frank McIntyre on January 27, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Starfoxy, the money still went to “family planning”, so I don’t think your first possibility is what was generally happening, though if you have some additional information I’d be interested to hear it.

    As for the second, with a hospital no longer offering the service, it seems at least superficially plausible that something like that might have happened somewhere. But was this money actually going to hospitals on the border of switching? It would be interesting to know how often hospitals actually changed their behavior in order to qualify for U.S. funding. And if they lost funding because of their status, where did the money end up? How much better or worse was the alternate fundee?

    The next question to ask would be, was the reduction in abortions worth the increased risk to mothers in less safe abortions? Remember that these won’t be “back-alley” abortions in the sense of clandestine illegal operations, they just won’t be serviced by hospitals. What is the mortality rate from such non-hospital abortions?

  91. Frank McIntyre on January 27, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Carborendum, good thinking.

  92. Steve V. on January 27, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Frank you misunderstood. Starfoxy has stated it well. “Family planning” from other organizations (a.k.a. religious) tends toward promoting abstinence. We all know how well that works. Recent studies have shown that it does nothing to reduce teenage sexual practices here in the US. Why would it work elsewhere? As an aside I’m not advocating that religious groups shouldn’t preach abstinence. Therefore it would seem logical that funding an organization that does promote family planning *(in the secular sense) in addition to providing abortion services, could very well decrease total rates compared with the former option.

    I agree to some degree with Carborendum. Why do we have to choose? If left between the choice of no abortions (offered by conservatives) and freedom of choice, I would select freedom of choice. My opinion is heavily influenced by the Church’s stance on abortion where some cases would be permitted. I could never side with forcing someone who has been the victim of rape or incest to have a baby. Additionally I do think the Mother’s health as well as certain genetic defects should be taken into account. If conservatives would allow for that, then I would be happy to support them. As carborendum has states, it’s an all or nothing for both sides.

  93. Naismith on January 27, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    “Steve, the amount of funding did not change, it just changed who got the funding.”

    Yes, and that is a problem. As members of the United Nations, we have an obligation to fund the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund), http://www.unfpa.org/public/

    But the Bush administration withheld $244 million. This caused the UNFPA, a well-respected group, to cut back on its operations, which DO NOT provide abortions or support abortion as a method of family planning (quite the opposite) but rather provide services for safe births, gynecological health, contraception, etc.

    So to a woman in a small village whose clinic was shut as a result of cut funding, the US is responsible. Her blood is on our hands if she dies in childbirth. And it’s partly our fault if she becomes pregnant because she can no longer obtain safe contraceptives. This is exactly how funding one of the Bush-banned groups can result in FEWER abortions.

    Yes, USAID gave more money to family planning. But sending it that way rather than fulfilling our obligation to UNFPA meant wasting money to duplicate infrastructure. Which is exactly why LDS Humanitarian Services does not create a new infrastructure when they move in to help; they work with existing agencies. I’d like our country to take a page from LDS humanitarian services.

    The US denied money to UNFPA because they provide services in China, despite a fact-finding group selected by the Bush administration recommending funding UNFPA. So funding was lost to many countries which don’t practice abortion at all. It was a crude tool that was used to inflict our self-righteousness on the world.

    And we wonder why people around the world hate us?

    “It is rather unlikely that abortion clinics result in a net decline in abortions.”

    UNFPA does not run abortion clinics. They discourage abortion as a method of birth control. And yet still the Bush administration vetoed funding.

  94. Brad Kramer on January 27, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    “was the reduction in abortions worth the increased risk to mothers in less safe abortions?”

    Would you support legislation that dictated that abortions could only be performed with non sterile equipment? Sure, it would pose a risk to mothers in less safe abortions, but it would also be a deterrent against abortions in the first place.

  95. c_e_perez on January 27, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    so if the funding doesnt go towards abortions, why is it that you are the only one who knows that? everyone else seems to believe that the funding will end up being used for abortions. the party in power we know is the party of killing babies so why would they alow thie funding if they didnt want it and didnt expect it to go towards abortions?
    -fin-

  96. Brad Kramer on January 27, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    “the party in power we know is the party of killing babies so why would they alow thie funding if they didnt want it and didnt expect it to go towards abortions?”

    You’ve found the right blog, my friend.

  97. c_e_perez on January 27, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    “You’ve found the right blog, my friend.”

    thanks. ive enjoyed your posts.

  98. Brad Kramer on January 27, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    I aim to please…

  99. Frank McIntyre on January 27, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Steve, I think I will stick with talking about just one program at a time.

    Brad,

    “Would you support legislation that dictated that abortions could only be performed with non sterile equipment? Sure, it would pose a risk to mothers in less safe abortions, but it would also be a deterrent against abortions in the first place.”

    That deterrent is a deadweight loss one — as it deters but without transferring resources to a useful cause. I’d prefer something that isn’t. Like requiring community serivce or fees for abortions. The optimal cost to impose would reflect the negative externality imposed on society (including the unborn) by the abortion.

  100. James on January 27, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    re: 93. The U.S. has no moral or legal obligation to contribute to non-governmental organizations associated with the U.N., and joining was a mistake to begin with. The U.N. has never been our friend. You mentioned that you wonder why people around the world hate us? Who cares if they do?

    UNFPA endorses by silence the one-child policy in China which is a major reason for the Bush Administration refusing to donate to the organization. The one child policy has long term national security implications for not only China’s neighbors, but the rest of the world. Valerie Hudson at BYU has written extensively about this.

  101. Kaimi Wenger on January 28, 2009 at 12:55 am

    Kaimi, not all “health exceptions” are created equal.

    That may be true, Frank. But the church’s policy clearly allows for health exceptions of some sort, and the Mexico City policy allows for *no* health exceptions. Therefore, however one chooses to dissect the concept of health exceptions, it will be true that the church’s policy is more flexible than the Mexico City policy.

  102. Tim J on January 28, 2009 at 9:23 am

    I’m finding several references that show that the Mexico City policy does have exceptions for rape, incest, and health of the mother.

    http://www.populationaction.org/Publications/Reports/Global_Gag_Rule_and_US_HIV_AIDS_Assistance/Background_The_Global_Gag_Rule.shtml

  103. Kaimi Wenger on January 28, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Tim,

    It’s my understanding — I could be wrong — that the MCP does not have a “health” exception, only a “life” exception. That is, it only allows for abortion when the mother’s life is threatened, not the mother’s health.

    In contrast, the church’s policy clearly allows for the possibility of abortion where “the life or good health of the mother is seriously endangered.” (emphasis added)

  104. Frank McIntyre on January 28, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Kaimi,

    All true. But is there some reason that the U.S. foreign aid budget should follow the Church’s counsel to its members? It is not as if this aid dictates all abortion in third world countries. Thus, suppose the aid decreases the funding available for abortions, that does not mean that those with serious health exceptions won’t get abortions, rather it means that some marginal abortions won’t occur.

    Of course, the agencies might be bad at determining the margin, but if so I am even more ambivalent about funding them– as that would indicate poor judgment on their part.

  105. Brad Kramer on January 28, 2009 at 11:45 am

    “is there some reason that the U.S. foreign aid budget should follow the Church’s counsel to its members?”

    That’s hardly the point. The point is that if it did, it certainly wouldn’t constitute the apocalyptic catastrophe that the ensuing T&S post would make it out to be.

  106. Frank McIntyre on January 28, 2009 at 11:57 am

    It also would not look like the Obama policy.

  107. Alison Moore Smith on January 28, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Alison, you had wondered aloud in #36 whether or not you were an idiot.

    No, I didn’t. I said I realized I probably was. I think “wondering aloud” might have looked like, “Hmmm. Could I be an idiot?”

    Your experience as a business owner will only help you not be an idiot to the extent your business isn’t stupid and you’re not an idiot in the way you run it.

    Well, perhaps you can answer my question, then. Our businesses are successful and I still can’t see how money coming into the bank doesn’t translate to money going out for expenses.

  108. Alison Moore Smith on January 28, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Mark Brown:
    You seem to be missing the point. The Mexico City Policy refuses any funding to any organization which “promotes or performs” abortions. Since LDS hospital performs abortions, it would be be inelibigle for funds if it were located overseas.

    It was my impression that “the point” of this discussion was along the lines of whether or not it is appropriate for US taxpayer dollars to be sent to organizations that perform abortions overseas. What do you think “the point” is?

    I would be much more inclined to believe the outrage were real if those professing it would write to the Presiding Bishop’s office and the office of The First Presidency and demand an answer as to why the church lends it name and support to an organization which provides abortions.

    Why would this impress you more? Do you have a particular outline of where outrage should be first directed in order to be deemed genuine? Or are you suggesting that LDS hospital itself has a greater impact on the loss of pre-born life than Planned Parenthood?

  109. Frank McIntyre on January 28, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    OK, a little warning that we’ll close comments in an hour or two, just cause that’s the way we roll. If you don’t make it in time, you can email Adam your comment and he can post it.

    Don’t worry, we won’t assume from your silence that you assent to anything said by your respective nemeses.

  110. Steve Evans on January 28, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    “I said I realized I probably was [an idiot].”

    Fair enough. My mistake.

    “I still can’t see how money coming into the bank doesn’t translate to money going out for expenses.”

    It’s fairly simple, actually. Many multipurpose charitable organizations have multiple directed accounts or budgets; when donors place directed conditions of use on their donations, those organizations designate the funds to go into accounts which only certain segments are authorized to touch. I suppose your concern would be more valid if you were dealing with a very small organization or business with a single bank account or no internal accounting system to ensure that funds are not internally mishandled. But if I give money say to the United Way and direct that the funds be used towards a specific arm of their organization, that’s how they’ll be used. Same with organizations that have contraceptive or abortion-related services.

  111. Steve Evans on January 28, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    I like your new heavy-handed admin style, Frank. It suits you. Kind of like the suit from Project Grizzly.

  112. aloysiusmiller on January 28, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Harry Reid voted to fund overseas abortions.

  113. Kaimi Wenger on January 28, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Comments closing already? Darn. And I was just getting ready to write a comment about how the Mexico City Policy affects gay marriage.

  114. Taylor on January 28, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    re: #53 and #70 (Abortions at LDS Hospital)

    I realize I’m a bit late to this thread, but just to be very, very clear…

    The “dilation and curretage” procedure mentioned in #53 is very often not an “abortion” procedure at all and should in no way be interpreted as church endorsement or funding of elective abortions. Without going into too much gore here, there are a whole stack of reasons why women may need to have one.

    As a semi-related general word of caution, medical professionals often will casually refer to this procedure as a “D&C.” Without getting too graphic here, my being aware of this association has influenced me (FWIW) to try and be very careful in public settings, when referring to that certain book of LDS scripture, to always refer to it as the “Doctrine and Covenants”, knowing that for many women* the term “D&C” has some pretty nasty associations.

    *…including my wife, who needed a D&C (to save her life) *after* delivering the (intact) dead body of our stillborn first child.

  115. sister blah 2 on January 28, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    US Government website on foreign aid:

    http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/global_health/pop/restrictions.html

    Quote:

    The Helms Amendment

    No foreign assistance funds may be used to pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions.

    An executive order (what Obama did) cannot override this law, because the executive branch must follow laws passed by congress (ignore what Nixon said in the Frost/Nixon interview–he was wrong; presidents are bound by the law).

    Of course, there should be oversight to ensure that this law is being followed, i.e. that the accounting measures Steve outlined in #110 are being followed.

  116. Brad Kramer on January 28, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Raymond #47 basically concedes the point that Sister Blah 2 and Steve E and others are arguing — that Adam is wrong and the US does not fund abortions under Obama’s policy. On the other hand, he does say that even for a project that has nothing to do with abortion, he would rather fund an anti-abortion group to do the project,rather than a pro-abortion group, if for no other reason than as a way of expressing his preference and motivating groups to be anti-abortion.

    Following Kaimi’s provocative suggestion (#113), I’d argue that you could take Raymond’s comment comment (and like-minded sentiment throughout this thread) as essentially articulating a defense of actions like the boycotts against yes-on-8 donors. Even if you think that $5 is a fair price for a burrito, and you are paying El Coyote for a burrito (not paying them to donate to yes-on-8), you would prefer to give your $5 to a no-on-8 taco shop rather than a yes-on-8 taco shop.

  117. Jim F on January 28, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Thank you Frank!

  118. Steve Evans on January 28, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    No on 8 tacos. Have you ever tried eating 8 tacos in one sitting? Impossible. It does not harmonize with my constitution.

  119. Frank McIntyre on January 28, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    No on 8 more comments.

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