In January 2003, a letter from Jill Sheffield of Family Care International was published in the New York Times. She wrote: 'Two years into the Bush presidency, it is apparent that reversing or otherwise eviscerating the [US] Supreme Court's momentous 1973 ruling that recognized a woman's fundamental right to make her own childbearing decisions is indeed Mr. Bush's mission ... undermining the reproductive freedom essential to women's health, privacy and equality is a major preoccupation of his administration--second only, perhaps, to the war on terrorism.'
The letter lists a number of activities pursued by Bush and his administration which appear designed to reduce women's choice and control in their reproductive health, and also to restrict the availability of sex education.
The effects of the new anti-choice agenda are also affecting women abroad. The president has reimposed the global 'gag' rule instituted by President Ronald Reagan, then lifted by President Bill Clinton in January 1993. It bars health providers who receive American family planning assistance from counselling women about abortion, engaging in political speech on abortion or providing abortion services, even with their own money.
In resurrecting the gag rule, the president is 'crippling the international family planning programs that work to prevent hundreds of thousands of infant and maternal deaths worldwide each year.'
Jill Sheffield continues: 'The administration's...