White House and Republican congressional negotiators reached a tentative agreement last night over abortion services in international family planning and the payment of the nearly $1 billion in UN dues. The White House indicated that the administration would accept GOP language linking the payment of UN dues with restrictions on abortion services yet would retain presidential power to waive the restrictions.
In 1973 U.S. funding for abortion services and international family planning was barred. Moreover, in 1984 Ronald Reagan issued an executive order known as the Mexico City policy prohibited international family planning groups from using their own funds to provide abortion services. President Clinton reversed the Mexico City policy shortly after taking office allowing international family planning groups to use their own funds to provide abortion services.
When news of the compromise emerged last week, Planned Parenthood Federation of America Vice President Jaccquelyn Lendsey said “Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) is holding the U.S. payments to the UN hostage in order to export his anti-choice, anti-woman agenda overseas.”
With this compromise to allow payment of the United States UN dues, the Mexico City policy will be written into a fiscal 2000 spending bill that would expire 10 months from now. This bill will contain the provision that President Clinton can waive the gag rule requirement with a 3 percent penalty, resulting in a loss of nearly $12 1/2 million in international family planning aid. Sources said Clinton will undoubtedly use the waiver, but reduction in family planning funds could lead to a decrease in access to reproductive health care.