The administration has proposed an executive order that would prohibit abortion service agencies and other groups such as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Women's Legal Defense Fund from receiving private charitable contributions made by federal workers under the Combined Federal Campaign.
The order would reverse a recent trend toward expanding the list of eligible organizations and would tighten eligibility standards for those who benefit from the $82 million fund, according to a draft of the order and other documents obtained by The Washington Post.
The order is being circulated to federal agencies for comment by the end of the month, an Office of Management and Budget spokesman confirmed yesterday.
It originated in the office of Donald J. Devine, director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, who has made a similar move to eliminate abortion coverage from federal employe health insurance programs.
The issue of who becomes eligible for the money and the method by which it is to be divided has provoked raucus infighting among charitable groups in recent years. The bulk of the money goes to the United Way and various health agencies (cancer, heart disease, etc.).
But under pressure from Congress and lawsuits, the list of recipients has grown to include public-interest and social-interest groups, enabling them to receive funds that contributors earmark for them. Several of these groups last month tried to head off the rumored new guidelines with a letter to President Reagan.
The new order would limit eligibility to strictly defined health and welfare service organizations that are voluntary and receive broad public support.
Any recipient, the order states, must be "non-political, meaning that it does not seek to influence the outcomes of elections or the determination of public policy by contributing to or endorsing any candidate for public office or any side of any question put to a referendum, by lobbying any legislative body or by litigating public policy in any court on behalf of any person other than itself, or by contributing to any other organization which carries on any of the activities proscribed in this subsection."
An eligible organization, the order goes on, "does not provide any abortions, euthanasia or abortion-related or euthanasia-related services or counseling, or any referrals to other agencies or organizations that provide such abortion-related or euthanasia-related services or counseling."
In a memo written last October to Craig Fuller of the White House's Office of Cabinet Administration, Devine acknowledged that these sections would be controversial and might provoke litigation.
But he argued that the new criteria were "aimed directly at the central problem that has arisen in the CFC in recent years, the ever-broader inclusion of groups and causes as 'charities,' and even perhaps as contributing to 'health and welfare.' But in that sense there is precious little in the way of constructive human activity that cannot be similarly viewed."
Of the section eliminating abortion services, he said:
"This criterion is in keeping with what we understand to be the policy of this administration and with recent congressional directives. In brief, if we do not want public monies in support of groups that provide abortions or abortion counseling and referrals, we should put this in the executive order to give it legal status."
Devine could not be reached for comment yesterday.