Northwest NEWS

March 26, 2001


Dear Editor,

At the end of February the United Nations announced some ominous figures for our planet's future. In the next 50 years the world's population will increase from its current level of around 6 billion to over 9 billion. In the same time the U.S. population will increase from 276 million currently to approximately 400 million. So you think the traffic is bad these days. On such an earth the wildlife we share with this planet will probably be reduced to isolated little sanctuaries. Just to add to the misery it is predicted that any oil reserves left will be drying up, along with depletion of most other resources, especially enough safe fresh water. Some people say technology will pull us through, but how much more over-exploitation and degradation can our ecosystems sustain?
   There are nations around the world whose leaders are not acknowledging the population crisis and who actually seek to block basic family planning. The United States has just become such a nation when the new administration's first major announcement in January was to reinstate the "Global Gag Rule." The Global Gag Rule cuts off U.S. family planning to groups in other countries that either use privately raised funds to provide abortion or if they just talk about their own countries abortion law, thereby, challenging freedom of speech. The administration stated that it wanted to block "taxpayer funding" of abortion overseas and that it wanted to make abortions more rare.
   The Global Gag Rule will do nothing about either. The fact is that no U.S. funds are used to provide abortions anywhere in the world. A 1973 federal law already prohibits such funding and when this policy was in effect from 1984 until 1993 it made no difference in the number of abortions.
   The Global Gag Rule is not about abortions but is a ban on funding for providing women with basic family planning and contraception services (which is the best defense against abortion). We know that complete, voluntary, confidential family planning reduces abortion by allowing women the power to choose when and how many children to have. Therefore, such restrictions on family planning funds will do nothing to reduce abortions around the world. In fact such restrictions may cause more abortions.
   If fellow readers feel outraged about the attacks on freedom of speech, the rights of women, and the impact on the environment they should write to the President and members of Congress urging them to reappeal the Global Gag Rule and release funding for international family planning.
   Jim Overton RN