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House Approves Bill Giving Birth Control to Foreign Organizations

The House voted yesterday to approve a measure that would reverse a ban on donating contraceptives to foreign organizations that perform or promote abortion. In a 223-201 vote, the House added the measure as an amendment to the fiscal year 2008 foreign aid spending bill, which also passed the House yesterday. New York Representative Nita Lowey (D) authored the amendment, saying it will “reduce unintended and high-risk pregnancies and abortions — and save the lives of mothers,” the Seattle Times reports.

Shortly after taking office, President Bush reinstated the global gag rule, originally adopted by former President Reagan in 1984 and removed by former President Clinton. The policy, also known as the “Mexico City Policy,” bars the US from funding overseas organizations that support abortion in any way — including direct services, counseling, or lobbying activities — even if the groups use their own monies for such activity.

Supporters of the recently passed amendment say that the measure does not conflict with Bush’s foreign aid policy. Still, Bush has indicated that he would veto any legislation that would affect abortion-related policies and laws, and conservative lawmakers will likely be able to block a Congressional override of Bush’s veto.

Sources:

Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report 6/22/07; Washington Post 6/22/07; AP 6/22/07; Seattle Times 6/22/07