Clinton move reopens abortion battle

BOTH SIDES in the ever-divisive debate over abortion rights in the United States returned to the fray at the weekend, responding either with praise or fury to the repeal of federal restrictions ordered on Friday by President Clinton.

Protest was strongest in the capital, where police arrested more than 300 members of the anti-abortion movement after they blockaded three abortion clinics, at one site chaining themselves to cars which had been wedged in clinic doorways.

Bill Clinton has issued decrees overturning five pieces of Bush-Reagan legislation. He rescinded a law banning federally financed clinics from offering abortion counselling, opened the door again to US funding for international family-planning programmes and lifted a ban on medical research using foetal tissues.

The ending of the ban on counselling, dubbed by pro-choice activists as the 'gag rule', was welcomed by the Planned Parenthood Federation, which runs 900 clinics across the country. The law, championed by George Bush, had been blocked by a federal judge but was due to come into force next month. Dozens of clinics had been threatened with closure.

'Overturning the gag rules literally saves the ability of low-income American women to have family planning and deal with unwanted pregnancies,' said David Andrews, the acting president of the federation. 'Otherwise we would have had a public-health disaster on our hands.'

Mr Clinton's order is also welcome news for international agencies, including the United Nations, engaged in family planning projects in Africa and other Third World regions. The US was a leading force in population-control efforts until the mid-1980s, when President Reagan withdrew funding from all programmes that included some abortion element.

'What we're seeing is the United States returning to the fold, and that's very important,' said Sharon Camp, the vice-president of Population Action International, a Washington-based group.

Officials at the UN Population Fund voiced hope that US funding for their programmes would be quickly resumed. Until the Reagan order, the fund received dollars 46m (pounds 30m) a year.

The new attitude of the Clinton administration is certain to provoke sustained protest from the 'right-to-life' activists, however. At the weekend protest, a spokesman for 'Operation Rescue', the leading anti-abortion group, warned that the President was 'forcing us . . . to bring the battle on to the streets'.

Hundreds of hymn-singing Operation Rescue members blockaded three Washington clinics on Saturday morning in an effort to turn away prospective abortion patients. They were met by equal numbers of pro-choice advocates, who responded by chanting abortion-rights slogans. In one incident, police took two hours to disentangle protesters from cars used in the barricades.

The Vatican made its own views known through the columns of the L'Osservatore Romano, the newspaper often used to convey papal policy.

Under President Clinton, the US had 'embarked on the paths of death and violence against innocent beings', it said.

(Photograph omitted)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Mock the tweet: Ukip leader Nigel Farage and comedian Frankie Boyle
peopleIt was a polite exchange of words, as you can imagine
Life and Style
fashion
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Humanities and Economics Teacher - January 2015 - Malaysia

£18000 - £20400 per annum + Accommodation, Flights, Medical Cover: Randstad Ed...

SEN Teaching Assistant needed for long term assignment

£45 - £55 per day: Randstad Education Preston: We are looking for an experienc...

Primary Teachers Required in King's Lynn

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teachers needed in King's Ly...

Primary Teachers needed in Ely

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teacher needed in the Ely ar...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain