Effort to restore Mexico City policy with amendment to aid bill fails

WASHINGTON – A U.S. House committee’s refusal to let an amendment on restoring the Mexico City policy go to the floor of the chamber eliminated a chance for debate on “an issue of serious concern to many Americans,” said a Republican congressman from Arizona.

The policy, which banned federal funding of abortion-providing groups abroad, was rescinded by President Barack Obama Jan. 23.

Rep. Trent Franks accused “pro-abortion members” of obstructing an amendment to the 2010 State Foreign Operations Appropriations bill that would have allowed an up or down vote on restoring the policy.

The amendment was sponsored by Franks and Reps. Chris Smith, R-N.J., Bart Stupak, D-Mich., James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.

The House Rules Committee July 8 blocked the lawmakers’ amendment to the $48.8 billion spending bill, which passed the House July 9.

The Senate Appropriations Committee July 9 voted to permanently reverse the Mexico City policy. The full Senate is expected to take up its version of the foreign appropriations bill later this summer.

Smith, a Catholic, said the amendment sought “to direct funds to family planning services, not abortion.”

“Our amendment would simply ensure that the huge allocation of taxpayer grant money not be awarded to foreign nongovernment organizations that perform abortion or lobby for abortion on demand in developing countries,” Smith said in testimony before the Rules Committee. He read the same statement on the floor of the House.

He cited the results of a poll by USA Today/Gallup released in early February showing that, although a majority of Americans supported many of Obama’s early actions in office, only about a third backed his decision to allow funding for overseas family planning groups that provide abortions.

“The United States is clearly trending pro-life – ultrasound technology has shattered the myth that an unborn child is not a person,” Smith said.

When Obama signed his executive order to rescind the Mexico City policy, he said its provisions were “unnecessarily broad” and had “undermined efforts to promote safe and effective voluntary family planning in developing countries.”

“For these reasons,” he continued, “it is right for us to rescind this policy and restore critical efforts to protect and empower women and promote global economic development.”

The Mexico City policy was first instituted by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. It was reversed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and re-established under President George W. Bush in 2001.

The policy has been called the “global gag rule” by its opponents, who say it prohibits taxpayer funding for groups that even talk about abortion if there is an unplanned pregnancy, and is known as the Mexico City policy because it was unveiled at a U.N. conference there in 1984.

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.