President Reagan has been criticized in some quarters of the prolife movement for not making antiabortion measures a higher priority. But recent presidential actions could put a stop to such complaints.

In a White House meeting with 150 prolife leaders, Reagan pledged renewed support for a “human life amendment” to the U.S. Constitution. And he urged support for the President’s Prolife Bill, which among other things would permanently restrict the use of federal funds for abortions (CT, June 12, 1987, p. 48).

He also expressed opposition to the Civil Rights Restoration Act. He called the bill a “proabortion federal intrusion” that would force all hospitals and colleges that receive federal funds—including religiously affiliated institutions—to provide abortion services.

Policy Changes

Most welcomed by the prolife leaders was Reagan’s announcement that he was removing abortion from Title X of the Public Health Act, the federal government’s family-planning program. He said he had directed Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Otis Bowen to issue several new regulations, including:

  • A restriction on the use of federal funds for any program that “encourages, promotes, or advocates abortion, or which assists a woman in obtaining an abortion.”
  • Rules stating that programs that “provide counseling and referral for abortion services as a method of family planning will not be eligible for the Title X funds.”
  • Requirements that federally funded groups keep separate both physically and financially any abortion-related services from their family-planning services.
  • A directive that the U.S. Surgeon General issue a “comprehensive medical report on the health effects, physical and emotional, of abortion on women.”
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