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Nation's Largest Jewish Organization Expresses Disappointment in President Bush's Reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule

Contact: Danielle Hirsch or Rachel Orkand (202) 387-2800

WASHINGTON, January 23, 2001 — Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, today issued the following statement reacting to President Bush's decision yesterday to reinstate the Global Gag Rule. Under the Global Gag Rule, foreign family planning organizations that use their own, non-U.S. funds to provide legal abortion services or to lobby their own governments for changes in abortion laws are banned from receiving any U.S. aid for their non-abortion family planning work:

I am deeply disappointed that President George Bush, as one of his first acts as President, issued an executive order to withhold U.S. family planning funding to overseas organizations that support legal abortion. This represents a major setback for international family planning programs and sends the wrong message to Americans and our allies abroad.

As Jews, we consider all life to be sacred. We do not celebrate abortion, and we welcome President Bush's comments this past weekend in which he called for a reduction in the need for abortion, rather than focusing on a legislative ban on abortion. However, this nation must recognize the fundamental importance of reproductive freedom and a woman's ability to make moral decisions, often in consultation with her clergy, family and physician, on whether or not to have an abortion.

Yesterday's Executive Act by President Bush was an unacceptable attempt to abridge reproductive freedom worldwide. If the President is serious about reducing the need for abortion, cutting the funding for international family planning—which has never been allowed to be used to fund abortion activity—is the wrong way to do it. I am disappointed that President Bush would begin his tenure on such a divisive note and hope that he will return to his campaign theme of being a uniter, not a divider. It is especially egregious that a nation which, by law, affirms a woman's right to choose on its own soil, would place such restrictions on the rights and needs of women throughout the world.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), whose 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) whose membership includes over 1700 Reform rabbis.



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