President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team is preparing the first actions of his presidency, planning to lift embryonic stem cell research funding restrictions and rules which prevent international organizations that receive U.S. aid from counseling women about the availability of abortion.
The latter rules, known as the “Mexico City Policy,” were developed under the Reagan administration, revoked by the Clinton administration, and restored by President George W. Bush’s administration.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America said her organization had been communicating with Obama’s transition staff almost daily. “We expect to see a real change,” the Washington Post reports.
John Podesta, Obama’s transition team co-chair, spoke about these changes on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.
“I would say that as a candidate, Senator Obama said that he wanted all the Bush executive orders reviewed, and decide which ones should be kept, and which ones should be repealed, and which ones should be amended,” Podesta said.
Podesta characterized Bush’s stem cell research policy as “probably not in the interest of our country,” also naming oil and gas drilling policy and health care.
“There's a lot that the president can do using his executive authority without waiting for congressional action,” Podesta continued, “and I think we'll see the president do that to try to restore the — a sense that the country is working on behalf of the common good, that we're going to try to restore wages, give people the right kind of ways that they can build on their own lives, and when they work hard that they'll be rewarded for it.”
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, responded to the reversal of the “life affirming executive orders” with a “profound sense of disappointment.”
“If Mr. Obama reverses the 'Mexico City Policy,' which forbids groups that receive American aid from counseling women about the availability of abortion, it would greatly increase abortions around the world. It would also create a scenario in which American evangelicals and Catholics would be paying for abortion referrals through their tax dollars.
“If President-elect Obama reverses this policy, it would show a complete and blatant disregard for the faith values of millions of American Christians as well as expanding the violence and tragedy of abortion worldwide. America should be exporting justice and human rights not brutality and violence.
“Is this what President-elect Obama means by hope and change?”
Mahoney charged that the reversal of the ban on federal funds for embryonic stem cell research would show “a lack of respect for social justice and the deeply held beliefs of millions in the faith community.”
“Embryonic stem cell research is the tragic destroying of human life and with modern breakthroughs in stem cell research is no longer needed. We invite President-elect Obama to step into the world of modern medical technology and move away from archaic barbaric medical practices.”