by Steven Ertelt
July 3, 2007
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Last week, members of the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2008 foreign aid spending bill and it allows groups that perform or promote abortions in other countries to get taxpayer funds. As passed, the measure overturns President Bush’s Mexico City Policy.
On his first day in office, President Bush restored a policy first used in the Reagan and Bush administrations and rescinded under President Clinton.
The policy, that Reagan first announced in Mexico City, would make sure no taxpayer funds go to organizations that push abortion in other nations.
The House funding committees approved the bill with language from Rep. Nita Lowey, a pro-abortion New York Democrat, that would make the State Department fund pro-abortion groups.
The Lowey language changes the policy in a way that essentially overturns it by allowing pro-abortion groups to receive federal funds as long as they spend part of the money on promoting contraception as well.
Reps. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican, and Bart Stupak, a Michigan Democrat, led a bipartisan effort to remove the Lowey language and restore the Mexico City provisions. Their effort failed by 13 votes on a 218-205 margin last month.
There is a possibility that a pro-life senator could propose an amendment to the bill on the Senate floor that would restore the Mexico City Policy. If that doesn’t happen, President Bush will almost undoubtedly veto the bill.
The president sent a letter last month to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saying he would veto any legislation that would weaken federal policies or laws prohibiting abortion funding measures that would "allow taxpayer dollars to be used for the destruction of human life."
Sen. Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican running for president and someone who might propose an amendment similar to Smith-Stupak, confirmed to Reuters he thinks Bush will veto the bill without the Mexico City Policy intact.
"I think it is likely the president would veto the bill if that language remains in it," he told Reuters.
The bill heads to the Senate floor for debate and vote following the Congressional recess for Independence Day.
During the House debate, Smith said lawmakers were voting not on making abortion illegal but simply protecting Americans who don’t want their money paying for it.
"Someday, future generations of Americans will look back on us and wonder how-and why-such a rich and seemingly enlightened society, so blessed and endowed with the capacity to protect and enhance vulnerable human life, could have instead, so aggressively promoted death to children by abortion," he said.
"They will note that we prided ourselves on our human rights rhetoric and record while precluding all protection to the most persecuted minority in the world today — unborn babies," Smith added.
With such a close vote in the House, it’s likely that pro-life lawmakers may be able to muster enough votes to sustain the veto and to force Democratic leaders to rework the bill without abortion funding.
Pro-life groups strongly pushed for the vote to affirm the Mexico City Policy.
The National Right to Life Committee says the Lowey language gutting the policy would “allow even the most aggressively pro-abortion groups to be eligible for U.S. assistance” and that “any group that is performing abortions or actively promoting abortion abroad should not be eligible for U.S. assistance.”
Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the Right to Life group, previously told LifeNews.com about how the Lowey language guts Bush’s pro-life policy.
He said a group could get a grant for $100 million and use 90% of the money to promote or perform abortions and 10 percent to promote contraception and qualify under Lowey’s language.
"Congresswoman Lowey is claiming that her language would fund only contraception, but in fact its purpose and effect would be to restore tax funding to organizations that aggressively promote abortion as a method of birth control," Johnson told LifeNews.com.