CNS News conflated family planning funding with abortion "gag rule" to attack Bush critic

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

A Cybercast News Service article falsely reported that Rev. Jane Holmes Dixon, a retired Episcopal bishop of Washington, D.C., called the Mexico City Policy -- a Reagan-era rule, reinstated by President Bush, that prohibits U.S. funding of international groups that provide abortion services -- a "disgrace." In fact, Dixon was referring to Bush's proposed cuts in financing for international family planning programs.

A March 10 Cybercast News Service (CNS) article falsely reported that Rev. Jane Holmes Dixon, a retired Episcopal bishop of Washington, D.C., called the Mexico City Policy -- a Reagan-era rule, reinstated by President Bush, that prohibits U.S. funding of international groups that provide abortion services or "actively promote abortion as a method of family planning" -- a "disgrace." In fact, Dixon, who was speaking at an International Women's Day event coordinated by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, was referring to Bush's proposed cuts in financing for international family planning programs. Cybercast News Service is a division of the conservative Media Research Center, an organization that purports to "prove -- through sound scientific research -- that liberal bias in the media does exist," and to "neutralize its impact on the American political scene."

The Mexico City Policy, first established in 1984, was rescinded on January 22, 1993, by former President Clinton. Bush reinstated the policy on January 22, 2001.

According to the CNS article, by staff writer Monisha Bansal:

For more than 20 years, when a Republican has been in the White House, international family planning organizations that either discuss or perform abortions have been barred from receiving U.S. taxpayer dollars. Pro-abortion activists continue to be angry about what they call a "global gag rule."

The regulation, formally known as the Mexico City Policy, is a "disgrace" said Rev. Jane Holmes Dixon, a retired Episcopal bishop from Washington, D.C., and member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC). She complained that under the Bush administration, "international family planning, maternal health and child survival programs have been cut to their lowest levels in years."

"This is a disgrace for a country that prides itself on its generosity to those in need and its commitment to the fundamental dignity and equality of every human being," Dixon stated.

Dixon was not, however, referring to the Mexico City Policy, but to Bush's proposed $79 million cut in financing for international family planning programs, as a March 8 Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice press release indicated:

Leaders of major American religions today decried the Bush Administration's proposed $79 million cut in U.S. assistance for international family planning and called on Congress to increase funding for these programs. They spoke at an International Women's Day event at the United Methodist Building in Washington coordinated by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Affirming their faith traditions' commitment to women's health as a core religious value, they urged Congress to support the Focus on Family Health Worldwide Act (HR 4188), a bipartisan approach to meeting the critical family planning needs of the world's poorest families sponsored by Representative Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), and co-sponsored by Representative Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.) and others. McCollum and Ramstad spoke at the event.

The Right Reverend Jane Holmes Dixon, retired Episcopal Bishop of Washington, said that "international family planning, maternal health, and child survival programs have been cut to their lowest levels in years. This is a disgrace for a country that prides itself on its generosity to those in need and its commitment to the fundamental dignity and equality of every human being..."

A February 15 New York Times article clearly differentiated the family planning cuts outlined in Bush's 2007 budget proposal from the Mexico City Policy:

President Bush, who acted on his first full day in office five years ago to deny federal aid to overseas groups that help women obtain abortions, is for the first time proposing sharp cuts in financing for international family planning programs that the White House had described as one of the best ways to prevent abortion.

Since 2001, the administration had adhered to Mr. Bush's commitment to maintain the financing of such programs at $425 million, the same level as in the last year of the Clinton administration.

But in the president's new budget proposal, financing would fall 18 percent, from $436 million this year to $357 million.

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Health Care, Reproductive Rights
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