The Senate Appropriations Committee voted in favor of an amendment to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule yesterday. Also called the Mexico City policy, the Global Gag Rule prohibits 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. The legislation, introduced by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), comes as an amendment to the State-foreign appropriations bill. According to Population Action International, the amendment passed on a 19 to11 vote, winning the support of almost all Democrats and two Republican Senators, Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) was the only Democrat to vote against the measure.
Lautenberg’s amendment would eliminate the Global Gag Rule permanently, preventing the policy’s existence from being subject to party changes in the White House. The Gag Rule was originally adopted by President Ronald Reagan, removed by President Bill Clinton, reinstated by President George W. Bush on his first day in office, and then repealed again by President Obama on his first day in office. Senator Lautenberg said in yesterday’s press release, “Women’s reproductive health should be protected around the globe, not threatened by an ideological agenda.” He continued, “It is time to permanently end the dangerous and harmful global gag rule and strengthen America’s position as an international leader for women’s rights.”
The House version of the State-foreign appropriations bill does not contain a measure to repeal the Global Gag rule, thus leaving the future of Lautenberg’s amendment in question. Additionally, it is unlikely that the FY 2011 appropriations bill will be completed in time for a vote in either the House or the Senate, possibly delaying any action on spending bills until after the mid-term elections.