Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives are considering an appropriations bill that would, in part, restore the Mexico City Policy preventing the funding of groups that promote or perform abortions overseas.
The policy has been a central tenant of pro-life foreign policy during Republican administrations, but pro-abortion presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both scrapped it during their first weeks in office. The policy, first named for a conference in Mexico City where pro-life President Ronald Reagan announced it, ensures taxpayer dollars don’t flow through international family planning programs to organizations like the International Planned Parenthood Federation, which claims to have done in hundreds of thousands of abortions worldwide.
Planned Parenthood and the British-based Marie Stopes International refused to stop doing abortions or trying to get nations to abandon their pro-life culture and heritage and refused to follow the pro-life rules so they could accept the family planning funds during the Bush administration.
The measure the Foreign Affairs Committee is considering would reinstate the Mexico City Policy fully and, today, Republicans turned back an effort from Democrats to strike the language on a 25-17 vote.
While abortion advocates will likely float amendments on the House floor to strike the pro-life language, Republicans have enough votes to defeat them and approve the bill. However, the bill’s fate in the Senate is much less certain and Democrats who control the Senate will not likely bring up the legislation — and Obama would likely threaten to veto the bill even if it had the votes.
Despite Obama and Senate Democrats holding up the pro-life policy, Republicans have made inroads into cutting the international pro-abortion agenda.
In April, pro-life Speaker John Boehner secured an budget agreement that, in part, cuts funding to the pro-abortion UNFPA (United Nations Family Planning Agency) that has worked hand-in-hand with Chinese population control officials who have enforced the one-child rule with forced abortions and other human rights abuses. Republicans trimmed funding for the agency from the $55 million President Barack Obama put in place to $40 million.
The bill also cut international population control and family planning funding to $575 million from the $648 million Congress authorized in 2010. That’s less money for the pro-abortion groups without the Mexico City Policy.
In July, the nation’s Catholic bishops called on Congress to restore the policy and make further cuts.
The letter from Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services, went to the top Republican and leading Democrat on the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs. In the letter, USCCB and CRS affirm strong support for restoring the Mexico City Policy and they support denying funding to the U.N. Population Fund.
“The USCCB, CRS, and many others in the faith community … stand ready to work with leaders of both parties for a budget that … promotes human life and dignity,” Bishop Hubbard and Hackett say in the letter.
“As you consider appropriations language, we strongly support restoring the Mexico City Policy against funding groups that perform or promote abortion, and denying funding to the U.N. Population Fund which supports a program of coerced abortion and involuntary sterilization in China,” they add. “It is also important to preserve the Helms Amendment, prohibiting U.S. funding for abortion, and the Kemp-Kasten provision, prohibiting support of organizations involved in programs of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.”
In September 2003, President George W. Bush expanded the Mexico City Policy and issued an executive memo making it clear that the pro-life policy applies to federal funding of all population programs funded by the State Department — even if they are not funded through USAID.
Another pro-life law, called Kemp-Kasten, prohibits the federal government from funding involuntary population programs.