By Rev. Ben Johnson*
With one stroke of the pen, President Joe Biden vitiated three unalienable rights. Biden signed a presidential memorandum order forcing U.S. taxpayers, including those with religious objections, to fund abortion-on-demand and abortion advocacy around the world.
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan enacted the Mexico City Policy, which excluded foreign non-governmental agencies that “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning” from receiving U.S. Agency for International Development funds. President Donald Trump’s Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy expanded this to include largesse distributed by “all departments or agencies” of the U.S. government. Biden’s action reverses that policy.
Both Reagan and Trump allowed abortion referrals in the cases of rape, incest, or if the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother. Thus, today’s executive action requires U.S. taxpayers to pay for the promotion of elective abortion, or abortion-on-demand, which most Americans find objectionable – and which traditional Christianity teaches is sinful.
“Funneling U.S. tax dollars to abortion groups overseas is an abhorrent practice that flies in the face of the ‘unity’ Joe Biden and Kamala Harris promised to inspire,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List.
A new Marist/Knights of Columbus poll released on Wednesday found that 77% of all Americans – including two-thirds of voters who describe themselves as “pro-choice” and 55% of Democrats – oppose taxpayer funding of abortion overseas.
A sizable majority of Americans also oppose taxpayer funding for U.S. abortions (58%), including nearly one-third of Democrats (31%) and two-thirds of independents (65%).
Biden also paved the way for U.S. organizations that perform or refer for abortion to receive Title X funding. The Trump administration denied Planned Parenthood $60 million in taxpayers’ dollars when the nation’s leading abortion provider withdrew from the women’s health program rather than stop performing terminations.
Dannenfelser said the reversal creates “a slush fund” for abortion providers and represents “a payout to the abortion industry that backed [the Biden-Harris] political campaign.”
Whatever the reasoning behind the expansion of elective abortion funding, one must seek it outside of the rationale offered up by the Biden administration. The measure fails on its own logic.
Take the White House “fact sheet” on the memo, which asserts that “Black, Indigenous and other people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and those with low incomes” have been “denied access to reproductive health care” – a euphemism for abortion.
In reality, non-Hispanic black women accounted for 33.6% of all U.S. abortions in 2018, although blacks make up only 13.4% of the U.S. population. “In 2018, compared with non-Hispanic White women, abortion rates and ratios were 3.4 and 3.0 times higher among non-Hispanic Black women and 1.7 and 1.4 times higher among Hispanic women,” according to the CDC’s 2018 Abortion Surveillance. “Non-Hispanic Black women had the highest abortion rate (21.2 abortions per 1,000 women) and ratio (335 abortions per 1,000 live births).”
The CDC does not measure the income of women who obtain abortions. However, the Guttmacher Institute conducted a groundbreaking study in 2004 investigating the “Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions.” It found that 73% of women say they sought an abortion, because they “can’t afford a baby now.”
If this executive action truly sought to redress women’s inability to obtain an abortion on the grounds of race or income, it is a solution in search of a problem. Politicians who wanted to reduce the high rates of abortion or improve communities’ access to bona fide healthcare would promote economic policies that create prosperity – like limited government and economic opportunity.
Furthermore, it’s unclear why a politician would consider an industry that has decimated the black population a boon rather than a menace. Typically, such an industry would be found guilty of racial discrimination because of its “disparate impact” on minorities – the same standard Biden applies to other industries.
The official explanation also falters when it refers to the Reagan-Trump policy as a “global gag rule.” The most pithy explanation comes from a Supreme Court case decided 11 days before Joe Biden was born. The justices ruled in 1942’s Wickard v. Filburn, “It is hardly lack of due process for the [g]overnment to regulate that which it subsidizes.”
Foreign NGOs are free to advocate abortion all they wish – on their own dime. Once American citizens are forced to underwrite their political positions, U.S. citizens have the right to object. And polls suggest campaigning against financing foreign abortions via compulsory taxation is a winning issue.
Some government officials have attempted to portray the redistribution of wealth from U.S. citizens to foreign abortion advocates as a coup for human rights. Dr. Anthony Fauci previewed the move last week, telling the World Health Organization that mandatory taxpayer funding of foreign abortions comprises one part of President Biden’s “broader commitment to protect women’s health and advance gender equality at home and around the world.”
Forcing U.S. taxpayers to advance abortion around the world violates the purpose of government. Governments exist to secure our unalienable rights. First among these is the right to religious freedom, including the ability to live our lives according to our conscience – particularly the right not to entangle our hard-earned money in the intrinsic evil of abortion.
“The government should never force taxpayers to fund abortions, either here or abroad, but should work to protect the inherent dignity of all persons, born and unborn,” says Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life.
The Founding Fathers said the right to “property” included both the right to life and the right to be free of confiscatory taxation. As the U.S. Commission on Unalienable Rights explained:
For the founders, property refers not only to physical goods and the fruit of one’s labor but also encompasses life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They assumed, following philosopher John Locke, that the protection of property rights benefits all … Without the ability to maintain control over one’s labor, goods, land, home, and other material possessions, one can neither enjoy individual rights nor can society build a common life.
Biden’s taxpayer-funded abortion order is government at its worst: undemocratic, unconstitutional cronyism that uses compulsory taxation to crush fundamental rights and harm the most vulnerable.
The Founding Fathers understood that losing sight of the purpose of government, and the Source and substance of our rights, assures that we can build no common life at all.
*About the author: Rev. Ben Johnson is Executive Editor of the Acton Institute’s flagship journal Religion & Liberty and edits its transatlantic website.
Source: This article was published by the Acton Institute