Issue 70, Summer 1998

Congress wants to bleet out the A-word from any international group that receives U.S. family planning funds. The legislation, HR 1757–also known as the Global Gag Rule–has passed both houses of Congress and now requires the President’s action.

Sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith of N.J., HR 1757 offers a carrot and a stick. While it authorizes payment of the nation’s overdue dues to the United Nations, it denies U.S. funds to foreign nongovernmental organizations seeking family planning money if they so much as talk about abortion–even when using their own funds. It prohibits groups from publishing or disseminating materials, attending conferences or workshops where abortion laws are discussed, or communicating in any way with their own governments about abortion, pro or con.

Many groups, including NCAC, are protesting this unconscionable and unconstitutional muzzle on public policy debates: it is hypocritical for us to impose on foreign entities restrictions that, if enforced here, would be constitutionally suspect and are plainly anti-democratic.