Republicans in the House are working to preserve President Bush’s reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy, or “Global Gag Rule,” which prohibits family planning programs that receive USAID family planning funds from using their own, non-U.S. funds to provide information about abortion or use their free speech rights. The GOP, President, and the media are misleading the public on the Mexico City Policy by skillfully implying that U.S. funds would provide abortions. In fact, direct U.S. funding for international abortion services has been prohibited since the Helms Amendment passed in 1973.
Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced an amendment to a State Department Budget that would effectively overturn the “Gag Rule;” that amendment passed in House International Relations Committee. Lee’s amendment included two main provisions: Foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) cannot be denied funding based on the medical services they provide, including counseling and referral services. Foreign NGOs, as a condition of eligibility for U.S. development assistance need not sacrifice their right to use their own funds to engage in free speech and assembly activities any more than U.S. based groups are asked to do.
In a counter attack, Henry Hyde (R-IL) and two other Congressmen introduced an amendment to the State Department Budget that would sustain the “Gag Rule.”