Senate Committee Votes to Ban Pro-Life Mexico City Policy

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 24, 2012   |   12:58PM   |   Washington, DC

A Senate committee voted today to permanently force Americans to fund groups that promote and perform abortions in other nations using taxpayer dollars.

The Democrat-controlled Senate Appropriations Committee approved, on a 18-12 vote, an amendment to the foreign aid and operations bill sponsored by pro-abortion Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat. The amendment would permanently ban the Mexico City Policy, which prevents the federal government from funding international groups that promote and perform abortions like Planned Parenthood’s international affiliate.

The policy, which President Barack Obama ditched during his first week in office, has been in place when pro-life Republican presidents have held office — starting with Ronald Reagan — and has been revoked by pro-abortion Democrats Obama and Bill Clinton.

Planned Parenthood is one of the major recipients of millions of dollars through the State Department and the USAID program and the abortion business refused to stop doing abortions or lobbying other nations to change their pro-life laws during the Bush administration so it could receive funds for non-abortion family planning services.

“House Republicans continue efforts to put politics in the way of vital health care for women by attempting to reinstate the global gag rule,” Lautenberg said in a statement, according to The Hill. “This amendment ensures this backwards policy never returns and protects access to family planning services for some of the world’s poorest women.”

The House Appropriations Committee voted down a similar amendment 23-27 last week and would be expected to hold up the bill in a conference committee unless Democrats agree to withdraw the amendment from the legislation.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a pro-life Republican from South Carolina, appeared to agree that the bill could be derailed on the Senate floor, potentially with a filibuster, because of the pro-abortion amendment. “This is where we break apart,” he told The Hill.

Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, told LifeNews today his group will work to ensure the amendment doesn’t become law.

“Senator Lautenberg’s pro-abortion amendments are kind of like North Korean ICBMs (Inter-Continential Ballistic Missles) — even when they get off the ground, they seldom fly far, and they never hit their target. They are for parades. NRLC will ensure that the latest Lautenberg Amendment does not hit its target — it will not become law,” he said.

Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska voted against the abortion funding amendment while Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Mark Kirk (Illinois) sided with Democrats for it.

The policy has been a central tenet 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.

Despite Obama and Senate Democrats holding up the pro-life policy, Republicans have made inroads into cutting the international pro-abortion agenda.

In April 2011, pro-life Speaker John Boehner secured n 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 2011, 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.