This policy was seen by many as an arrogant, classist slap in the face of the poor, since it is they who use these clinics. This latest insult was not viewed as politically damaging since typical Bush constituents wouldn't dream of going to a clinic for medical advice. They go to their own doctors who are not constrained by government social planning agendas when giving medical advice. Their advice is given in private and it is not subject to scrutiny.
The poor do not have the luxury of privacy. Their lives are full of bureaucratic intrusion. With the new guidelines, the poor not only had to relinquish their privacy, they also had to forfeit any choice they might have had.
Since the Bush administration was still on a roll when the new guidelines were announced, the howls of protest from Planned Parenthood, women's rights groups and libertarians were dismissed with patronizing statements claiming the administration's only goal was to make sure taxes were being spent judiciously.
The real issue - that the administration was forcing their societal agenda through a back door instead of through Congress and the courts - was not addressed. Thanks to a war, Bush was becoming a king and kings don't have to explain anything.
Recently, however, the polls are showing that people are getting tired of King George. As Pat Buchanan is proving, even some of the most solid Bush backers are beginning to waver. One polling organization has claimed that a race between Bush and Bill Clinton would end in a dead-heat.
Bush can read the polls. He knows that he is slipping.
In a blatant attempt to win some support from those he has ignored for four years, he has backed off on the clinic guidelines. Recently the administration "clarified" the previous guidelines, claiming that they never intended to influence medical advice. They now say physicians can discuss abortion if it is medically prudent to do so, but not if it is for "social" reasons. "Social" reasons have not been defined by the administration.
It would seem that Bush, the former fearless defender of liberty, is unwilling to face the political repercussions of his actions now that he is vulnerable.
His probable opponent, Clinton, is certainly no "white knight" but he surely has a better record of care and concern for the poor than Bush does.
Much like Bush's proposal to refund $300 to every taxpayer a few months ago, this "clarification" is another cynical attempt to steal a few votes by an increasingly desperate would-be king.
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