Abortion – Clinton's dominant domestic, foreign policy issue

By Patrick Trueman, AFA Director of Governmental Affairs

June 1994 – President Clinton has been harshly criticized for flip-flops on domestic and foreign policy matters. He is remarkably inconsistent on a variety of issues, except one – abortion. Expansion of access to abortion is a dominant, defining issue for this President. The evidence of this is alarming.

Health Care
All previous abortion battles in Congress will be considered minor skirmishes in light of the battle to come over inclusion of abortion coverage in health care. This is a battle pro-life forces can win and, according to pro-life leader Congressman Christopher Smith (R-NJ), must win. It is clear by now that the abortion mandate in the “Health Security Act” – the Clinton health care bill – has resulted in declining support for the bill in the Congress and in the public at large. That mandate would force every working American to buy insurance that pays for abortion on demand. Lack of Congressional or public support has not deterred Mr. Clinton. He continues to advocate abortion as an integral part of his bill or any health care bill which he would sign. Many insurance policies currently do not pay for abortions. Yet the President has said that his bill would merely “preserve the status quo.” The abortion lobby knows this is not so. They know that the Clinton bill would result in many more abortions, more abortion clinics, and more money to the abortion industry and abortion lobbies. They will hold the President’s feet to the fire on this one.

Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE)
Congress is set to give final approval to the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act which will criminalize abortion clinic protests and allow federal lawsuits against demonstrators. FACE has a strong supporter in President Clinton. He sent Attorney General Reno to the Hill last summer to endorse this bill which penalizes conduct based on motives. If two people are demonstrating at a clinic, one protesting abortions, and the other, perhaps a clinic employee protesting low wages, only the pro-life demonstrator can be sued or indicted under FACE. The thought police in Congress, currently in the majority, are offended by those with pro-life motives, but not by the supporters of abortion. FACE passed both houses of Congress last year with differences and was sent to a conference committee where those differences were ironed out. The President will soon have a final bill on his desk for his signature and then the prosecution of pro-lifers will begin with the full force of federal law.

Hyde Amendment
The vote last year on the Hyde Amendment, prohibiting federal funds for abortion, didn’t go according to script. With the first pro-abortion President in a dozen years, the abortion lobby thought resumption of federal funding for abortions was a foregone conclusion. Congressman Henry Hyde (R-IL), after whom the bill is named, had other plans. He deftly outmaneuvered the forces favoring abortion in the House and the Hyde Amendment passed by a surprisingly large margin. The Senate followed suit soon thereafter. This pro-life victory incensed pro-abortion leaders, especially those within the Clinton Administration (and there is no shortage of those). They set about to undermine the Hyde Amendment by sending a memo to all State Medicaid Directors ordering them to pay for abortions in cases of rape and incest, claiming the Hyde Amendment requires this result. While the Hyde language allowed for payment for abortions for rape or incest, it was not the intent of the Hyde Amendment to force states to pay if they chose not to. Thirty-six states have laws or constitutional provisions which prohibit them from providing funding for abortions except in life-of-the-mother situations. Thus an order from the federal government to pay for abortions in the cases of rape or incest would cause many State Medicaid Directors to violate state law or constitutional provisions. Several states have protested including the state of Arkansas which is constitutionally prohibited from providing publicly financed abortions in cases of rape or incest. Governor Bill Clinton supported this amendment to the Arkansas Constitution when it was proposed. President Clinton takes a different stand. Although he was reported in a Time magazine article (January 17, 1994) to have “exploded” when he became aware of this illicit directive by his own Department of Health and Human Services, the President lacked the fortitude to reverse the order. He didn’t want to offend the abortion lobby. This is indicative of a pattern and practice of this President. When his Attorney General, Janet Reno, sought to weaken federal child pornography laws President Clinton publicly protested but refused to order her to enforce the law. When his Surgeon General, Joycelyn Elders, suggested that the country should consider decriminalizing drugs, the President merely distanced himself from her comments but wouldn’t go so far as to order her to retract them. She has continued to call for the legalization of drugs.

Supreme Court
It is a foregone conclusion that the individual who will replace Justice Harry Blackmun on the U.S. Supreme Court will be pro-abortion. A barrier has been broken by the first Clinton appointee to the high court. Unlike some Bush appointees who mushed their way through Senate confirmation hearings by making cryptic statements regarding their positions on abortion, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the first Supreme Court appointee to openly state her views on abortion. She proclaimed loyalty to the “right to abortion.” The next Clinton nominee can be expected to do no less and there isn’t sufficient pro-life strength in the Senate Judiciary Committee nor in the full Senate to nix a nomination because of this issue. In fact it is likely that less than a handful of Senators would oppose a pro-abortion nominee. Thus, Clinton’s influence on the legal status of abortion is secure for perhaps decades to come.

Abortion and Foreign Policy
President Clinton has been criticized severely for having a muddled foreign policy. One recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal sums up the common perception of the Clinton foreign policy in its headline, “Clinton Speaks Loudly and Carries a Twig.” But in one area his policy is quite clear, his population policy. The President is attempting to force abortion on less developed countries which rely on the United States and the United Nations for financial aid. On this policy Clinton speaks loudly and carries a big stick – money. Under Clinton foreign policy abortion is considered a “fundamental right of all women.” Now, State Department officials, on behalf of the President, have urged that such extreme language be included in United Nations plans aimed at stabilizing global population growth.

Ninety-five nations have laws protecting the unborn child. They will not appreciate having U.S. or U.N. aid tied to their willingness to destroy unborn life. During the first week of his Administration, President Clinton overturned the so called “Mexico City Policy” under which Presidents Reagan and Bush prohibited funding of organizations that promoted abortion, and your tax dollars have been flowing freely to abortion providers worldwide ever since. The President has also targeted for elimination the Helms Amendment of 1973, a provision of the Foreign Assistance Act that prohibits the use of U.S. funds “to pay for abortions...or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions.” The President’s commitment to foreign policy may continue to be questioned, but not his commitment to abortion.