International agencies that provide family planning services again are able to receive important federal funding for their work, thanks to an executive order signed Friday by President Barack Obama. In too many places on the planet too many children make it difficult or impossible for families to live full and satisfying lives. Too few resources are spread too thinly, siblings and parents suffer, and the providers of critical services such as education and health care are overwhelmed.
With the funding the United States Agency for International Development provides, for example, family planning centers and programs in distant lands are more numerous and better staffed. With information about how to time or avoid pregnancy, children are more apt to result when they can be properly cared for.
Abortion counseling is part of family planning for many organizations. For that reason, federal funding had been halted by presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush as they reacted to their and pro-life groups' principles and demands. Bill Clinton reinstated the funding when he became president, and Obama now has done the same.
No one can be in favor of abortion; much better to provide adults with plenty of information about how to avoid unwanted pregnancies. But there are times when, for whatever reasons, a mother, or both parents, believe bringing a child into the world is the wrong thing to do for the child and for them. A child must be wanted in order to thrive.
With the signing of the executive order, Obama was quoted as saying, "For the past eight years, they (members of the previous administration) have undermined efforts to promote safe and effective voluntary family planning in developing countries. For these reasons, it is right for us to rescind this policy and restore critical efforts to protect and empower women and promote global economic development."
Obama also said the United Nations Population Fund should again receive U.S. support, and that he would work with Congress to make that happen. The same issue of abortion applies to that U.N. initiative, too.
We are among those who believe that well-funded, and thus thorough, family planning assistance will result in fewer abortions, not more, while family and community lifestyles and fortunes improve. We applaud Barack Obama's firm action in his first week in office.