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Nation Topics - Gender and Sexuality | The Nation

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Nation Topics - Gender and Sexuality

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George W. Bush has a sweet appealing face until he reveals his dark
side, as when he, in one of his first official acts, cut off funds to
international population control groups.

The pundits said he was merely getting even with organizations like
Planned Parenthood, which have opposed John Ashcroft's nomination as
attorney general. But the stark consequences of that political vendetta
will be tens of thousands of women around the world who will not have
access to safe birth control and who will die in self-mutilating attempts
at abortion. These women find themselves in such dire straits because
they are, in many cases, the victims of forced sex, whether by husbands
or strangers, who have total power over them.

In his message to the throngs bused into the nation's capital last
week protesting on the 28th anniversary of the Supreme Court's ruling
that abortion is legal, Bush said, "We share a great goal--to work toward
a day when every child is welcomed in life and protected by law."

That sounds noble, but it begs the question: For how long is that
child welcome--an hour or a lifetime?

What if that child is an 8-year-old street beggar in Rio de Janeiro or
Bangkok? Will he still be welcome, and under what law will he be
protected from pimps, perverted tourists and local merchants who hire
gunmen to blow street urchins away? And what about the mothers of those
children? Will they, and their families, sink deeper into poverty because
of a birthing decision over which they had little or no control?
Assuredly, they and their progeny will not be welcome to immigrate to the
US to escape the economic collapse of their own part of the world. Nor
has Bush even suggested an increase in the pathetic $2 annually per
American allocated to foreign aid for the world's poor. Instead, he
proposes a $236 billion tax cut over the next decade for the wealthiest
2 percent of Americans, money that if spent on the world's poor would represent
a strong pro-life statement. In effect, he's cynically cheering on
spiraling and unsustainable populations abroad.

That's the reality faced daily by the folks at Planned Parenthood and
those other international population-control organizations that Bush--in
a sop to the right wing of his party--decided to cut off from US
funding last week. There isn't a reputable social service organization
that doesn't prefer contraception to abortion. Denying these groups
funding undermines their effort to educate about birth control, which
would help head off abortions and also curb population growth. Fully
one-third of the world's work force is effectively unemployed, and the
United Nations estimates that 500 million new jobs must be created just
to accommodate new arrivals in the job market over the next decade.
Developing economies do not stand a chance of meeting that demand without
aggressive population control.

Yet Bush has chosen to cut funding for the very organizations, most
notably Planned Parenthood, that work hardest to make birth control
information available throughout the world. These groups do not use a
penny of government money when they counsel women for whom birth control
has failed that abortion is an option. But Bush would deny funds to any
organization that offers abortion information in any of its privately
funded activities.

For all his praise of private charities, Bush does not trust one of
the nation's most venerable social service organizations to organize its
work so as to not compromise the law. This is an organization actively
supported by his grandfather, Prescott Bush, who lost his first campaign
for the US Senate because Democrats confused Catholic voters with
charges that Bush had contributed money to Planned Parenthood. When he
finally won the seat, Prescott Bush was a strong advocate for the
organization.

His son, George Herbert Walker Bush, as a young congressman was the
author of the Family Planning Act of 1970, which George W. is now
attempting to reverse. He should heed the words of his father back in
1973: "Success in the population field, under United Nations leadership,
may, in turn, determine whether we resolve successfully the other great
questions of peace, prosperity and individual rights that face the
world."

Bush Sr. abandoned that sensible position to obtain the vice
presidential slot on Ronald Reagan's ticket. The Reagan Administration
first imposed the "gag" rule on family planning organizations, denying
them funds if they even mentioned abortion as a choice in their
educational work. That is the ban that Bill Clinton reversed and which
George W. has re-established.

Bush's purpose seems to be that of placating the far right while
punishing Planned Parenthood for having dared to suggest that John
Ashcroft, who equates abortion to murder, cannot be trusted to enforce
the law protecting a women's legal right to choose that medical
procedure.

One suspects that if Prescott Bush had been given the choice of
trusting Planned Parenthood over Ashcroft to obey the law, his answer
would have been obvious.

W hen the Vermont Supreme Court ruled December 20 that denying the statutory benefits and protections of marriage to same-sex couples was discriminatory, conservatives began frothing at the mouth

Jared Nayfack was 11 years old and living in the heart of conservative Orange County, California, when he told his best friend from school that he was gay--"and my friend then came out to me," sa

Isn't it curious how often the policy disaster that is posited as the thing that will never happen takes place within minutes?

If the sixties were the age of the war reporter and the seventies the age of the investigative reporter, then the late nineties may go down in history as the age of the blowjob reporter.

In Growing Up Absurd, his classic polemic on shortchanged youth, Paul Goodman remarks, parenthetically, that "the problems I want to discuss in this book belong primarily, in our society,

Whenever Gide wrote or spoke about himself directly, which was not infrequently, he would insist that his wars within were to be traced to his very genes.

One of the favorite tactics of pro-lifers--especially ones who are self-described "progressives"--is to accuse abortion rights supporters of being anti-child, hyperindividualistic, unwilling to p

I've always vowed I would never be one of those people--and you know who you are!--who cancel their ACLU membership in a fit of pique over a single issue.

Few Latino writers have challenged homophobia and machismo as fiercely as Jaime Manrique.

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