Key officials at pro-choice organizations tell TIME that one of George W. Bush's first acts as president will be to issue an executive order to reinstate the so-called "global gag rule," the controversial measure that prevents international agencies that receive U.S. government funds from providing abortion services abroad, or even talking about abortion. "We know it is coming, and we are braced for it," says Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood. Other sources say the action, which pro-life groups have been urging ever since President Clinton suspended the practice early in his first term, could come as soon next week. Monday is the 27th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. A Bush press spokeswoman said Friday that the incoming administration will have no comment on future executive orders.
Pro-choice activists say they are ready to act on short notice to mobilize their grassroots groups to contact Bush as well as Colin Powell, who will become secretary of state, and Condoleezza Rice, who will be national security adviser. They are also organizing a campaign to contact members of Congress. "We are on high alert," says a source coordinating the campaign.
One of Bill Clinton's first acts as president was to issue an executive order to lift the gag rule, which had been in place since 1984. "What a difference an election makes," Feldt says. "Bush is sweeping back into town ready to slap those restrictions right back on. It will be his first move. If anybody ever wondered if their vote was important, you can see it right here."