Executive Order Rescinds Protection against Torturing, Killing Children in the Womb


Deacon Keith Fournier


WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - On January 22, 2009, the day when all Pro-life people mourned the 50 million neighbors lost to our National family since the horrendous decisions of the US Supreme Court in Roe and Doe, rumors circulated that President Obama was going to sign an Executive order rescinding the protection of preborn life around the world under what is called the “Mexico City Policy”.

Then, accompanied by cameras and with great attention to being quite public, President Obama signed several Executive orders. The one of particular note was related to ensuring that the United States would not engage in torture; that we would treat even our enemies with proper recognition of their fundamental human dignity.

In that executive order, the new administration reaffirmed the requirements of the Federal Torture Statute... "regulating the treatment and interrogation of individuals detained in any armed conflict, such persons shall in all circumstances be treated humanely and shall not be subjected to violence to life and person (including murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture), nor to outrages upon personal dignity (including humiliating and degrading treatment), whenever such individuals are in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government....”

The move was welcomed by many, this writer included.It received the affirmation of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and loud praise from throughout the world. Speaking on behalf of the U.S. Bishops, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany said the following: “Based upon the teachings of the Catholic Church, our Conference of Bishops welcomes the executive order... Together with other religious leaders, we had pressed for this step to protect human dignity and help restore the moral and legal standing of the United States in the world." He added: "A ban on torture says much about us – who we are, what we believe about human life and dignity, and how we act as a nation."

The Bishops asserted: "The use of torture must be rejected as fundamentally incompatible with the dignity of the human person and ultimately counterproductive in the effort to combat terrorism" (No. 81).In September 2007 Pope Benedict XVI, echoing the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, said "[T]he prohibition against torture 'cannot be contravened under any circumstance.'"

Fortunately, contrary to many reports, there was no signing of an Executive order rescinding the “Mexico City Policy” on the day of the Roe v Wade Anniversary. Like millions of other pro-life folks, I was sincerely grateful. I prayed that our new President was going to fulfill one of his promises and respect those of us with whom he disagreed over this fundamental and foundational concern. I also hoped he had read the wonderful letter written to him by one of our champions, Francis Cardinal George and had second thoughts.

Then, on Friday, the rumors began again. Reports began to circulate, with no sources and on major news networks that it would be happen today. The signs grew more ominous as the day progressed. I watched intently. I “googled” Mexico City Policy and there was a link leading me to the White House site. However, there was still no order.Sadly, the rumors have proven to be accurate.Our new President signed another executive order today. This one he signed quietly, late on a Friday afternoon, at the time when actions are usually taken with hopes they will not receive much coverage. It was not done with lights and cameras and words of explanation. With the quiet deadly stroke of a pen, President Obama rescinded what is called the “Mexico City Policy”.

The policy was drafted by Pro-life champion Alan Keyes when he served the Reagan administration. It was instituted in 1984. The Policy made it clear that any non-governmental entities requesting foreign aid from the United States would not use those funds to provide for, refer or promote abortions. It was intended to prevent the United States from exporting abortion on demand around the world.

In short, the “Mexico City Policy” protected another group of human persons from being tortured, unto their death. Only these small people are not in a detention center. They are living in the first home of the whole human race, their mother’s womb. This humane policy also ensured that our tax dollars would not be used to torture them, through surgical dissection, suction, saline burns or chemical weapons and then kill them. That is if they lived in Brazil, or the Philippines or throughout Africa.

The Policy has certainly been a “political football” of sorts. It was rescinded under the Clinton years and then it was re-imposed under the two terms of former President Bush. It was a move “promised” by the new president, one of the “changes” he promised. However, I was one who held out some hope that this new President really was rethinking how he would proceed, at least on this matter of protecting our first neighbors in the womb. After all, throughout the campaign he called us all to recognize our obligations in solidarity to one another, that we really are our brother and sisters keeper. He also promised to respect those of us who support the fundamental right to life for every human person from conception to natural death and at every age and stage in between.

Now, with the stroke of a Presidential pen President Barack Obama has shown his disdain for our deeply held, moral position. He has also once again unleashed the evil that results from using tax dollars extracted from Pro-life citizens to fund the torture and killing of our first neighbors.It not only violates the Natural law right to life of the children who will be tortured and killed in every procured abortion, it violates our consciences by making us complicit in the evil. Sadly, this action indicates that the other promises the new President made to the supporters of abortion on demand may be on the horizon. All who love life need to pray and prepare for a long, difficult struggle.