Ever since Ronald Reagan first banned funding to international organizations that promote or provide abortions in developing countries and elsewhere in 1984, this executive order has been the most visible culture wars prize of our presidential elections. Like many culture wars battlegrounds, it has heavy symbolic significance. Unlike many, it also has significant real world consequences.
My wife asked me if I felt as though I’d been kicked in the stomach, as she did, when I heard that President Obama had rescinded the order (which had been reinstated by Bush after having been removed by Clinton) yesterday. I didn’t, since there was never any doubt that this would be one of Obama’s first actions if he was elected.
For me at least, President Obama’s order didn’t bring a kick in the stomach so much as a seeping sense of sadness. Obama softened the effect slightly by waiting until the day after the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, rather than trumpeting it on the anniversary. But the fact is that our government will be funding organizations that facilitate the deaths of unborn children in other countries. The order wasn’t unexpected, but that doesn’t make it less saddening.