Democrats in the House have written a new letter to pro-abortion President Barack Obama urging him to do more to spend taxpayer funds on paying for abortions in foreign countries and promoting abortion counseling.
The Democrats say they believe the Obama administration is too literally applying the Helms Amendment, which prohibits direct taxpayer funding of abortions in foreign countries using taxpayer-funded foreign aid. The liberal members of the House want the Obama administration to review the amendment and funding to determine if abortion counseling, information and abortions themselves can be legally paid for under a looser interpretation of the law.
“We are concerned that improper implementation of current foreign-assistance restrictions may be impeding our ability to provide even more effective and life-saving information and services,” they wrote in the letter, which The Hill obtained. “In particular, we are concerned that the Helms Amendment — which restricts but does not prohibit abortion funding — is being implemented as though it were an absolute ban.”
The members appear to be pushing for the payment of abortions in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother — the exceptions currently found in the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits taxpayer funding of abortions in the Medicaid program.
The letter claims previous presidents allowed abortion funding in such cases while excluding taxpayer coverage of foreign abortions in most cases, “as a method of family planning.”
“Funding abortion services in the cases of rape, life endangerment, and incest would assist women and help fulfill your stated goal of U.S. global-health-related foreign assistance: to save lives, reduce suffering, and support the health and dignity of people everywhere,” the letter says. “We look forward to hearing from you about steps the Administration will take toward making U.S. foreign assistance even more responsive to the needs of women in developing countries by reviewing and updating the application of current law.”
Members signing the letter include Democratic Reps. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Pete Stark of California, Yvette Clarke of New York, Lois Capps of California, Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, Barbara Lee of California, Donald Payne of New Jersey, Lynn Woolsey of California, Diana DeGette of Colorado, Maxine Waters of California, Louise Slaughter of New York, and Jesse Jackson Jr of Illinois.
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.
The letter comes after an investigation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), into the Obama Administration’s use of $18 million in taxpayer funds to provide funding for a group pushing legalized abortion in Kenya finds the administration broke the law. The investigation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, shows at least one Obama grantee openly pushed to expand abortion in Kenya despite a long-standing, annually renewed law that prohibits U.S. tax dollars from being used to lobby for or against abortion in other countries (known as the Siljander Amendment).
The GAO report also reveals that a key Obama official stonewalled investigators and refused to cooperate with the GAO in its investigation of the activities initiated by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department during the 2010 constitutional referendum in Kenya.
“The Obama Administration basically hired surrogates to do its dirty work of abortion promotion in Kenya,” said Congressman Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican who is the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights.
“U.S. policy on international constitutional reform is, by law, supposed to be abortion-neutral” Smith said. “This new report shows that at a minimum the Obama Administration ignored the prohibition with the end result being a new Kenyan constitution that vastly expands access to abortion in Kenya, courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer.”