US House votes to fund abortion abroad, cut funding for abstinence-education
The U.S. House of Representatives narrowly approved legislation on June 21 that would provide certain types of U.S. government assistance to private organizations that promote abortion as a method of family planning in foreign countries.
The legislation, authored by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), was approved as part of the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2764). Pro-life Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Bart Stupak (D-Mi.) offered an amendment but it failed by 13 votes.
President George Bush has threatened to veto the bill unless the pro-abortion provision is removed.
Under the Lowey provision, the U.S. Agency for International Development would be required to provide contraceptive supplies to any overseas private organization even if that organization promotes abortion as a method of family planning.
The provision would gut a vital pro-life policy, called the Mexico City Policy, which was created under President Ronald Reagan was re-instated by Bush by executive order after having been suspended by President Clinton. This policy specifies that federal funds for family planning are not available to non-governmental organizations that perform and promote abortion as a method of family planning in other countries.
Deirdre McQuade of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities was disappointed with the defeat of the amendment but encouraged by Bush’s pledge to veto the legislation.
She said Lowey’s bill “rewards in new ways organizations who actively defy the UN policy against promoting abortion as family planning," McQuade said. "While some claim that this measure will reduce abortions, logic and common sense dictate that we cannot reduce abortions by supporting groups dedicated to promoting abortions.”
The House also voted 200-226 to defeat an amendment by Representative Pitts (R-PA) to maintain current U.S. policy on funding abstinence-before-marriage programs for HIV-AIDS prevention.
"By setting aside the requirement that 33% of prevention funding focus on 'abstinence-before-marriage,' Congress is summarily rejecting sound evidence and experience of what actually works in reducing HIV and AIDS," said a joint letter to the House by Bishop Thomas Wenski, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Policy, and Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services.