Bill to repeal permanently Mexico City Policy introduced in US Congress

The US capitol building. Credit: Phil Roeder via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).
The US capitol building. Credit: Phil Roeder via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

.- Two Democrats in the U.S. Congress this week reintroduced a bill that would permanently repeal the Mexico City Policy, a regulation that is seen as a barometer of U.S. presidents’ abortion politics.

The Mexico City Policy, referred to as the “Global Gag Rule” by some critics, was originally instituted by president Ronald Reagan in 1984. It mandates that foreign non-governmental organizations may not receive federal funding if they perform or promote abortions as a method of family planning.

Since its implementation, the policy has been reinstated by every Republican president, and repealed by every Democratic president. The signing or repealing of the policy is typically one of the first acts by a newly-elected president in a kind of signaling of where they fall on abortion politics.

President Donald Trump signed the policy during his first week in office, and in May 2017 he expanded its scope, allocating more forms of foreign funding to organizations that do not perform or support abortions overseas, a move applauded by pro-life leaders.

When the policy is instated, foreign aid groups must either abide by it or risk losing their federal funding. Critics of the policy say that it cuts funding from essential health care to women abroad.

This week, the Global HER (Health, Empowerment, and Rights) Act, which seeks permanently to repeal the Mexico City Policy, was reintroduced in Congress by Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), with 150 cosponsors, including two Republican women –  Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME).

When the bill was introduced in 2017, it had 212 sponsors.

In comments to Reuters, Lowey credited the bill’s recent traction with the record number of women in Congress this year.

“The power of over a hundred women certainly makes a difference,” she told Reuters.

The U.S.-based Center for Family and Human Rights, a pro-life organization, told Reuters that foreign aid “should not be used to harm women and end the lives of their pre-born children.”

“It’s unfortunate that these members of Congress are motivated to provide assistance programs that are so destructive,” they said.

The bill will likely have a more difficult time passing the majority-Republican Senate.

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