U.S. Senate votes to repeal pro-life international policy

WASHINGTON (BP)--The U.S. Senate has approved an amendment to repeal a Bush administration-backed policy prohibiting federal funding of international organizations that perform or promote abortion.

Opponents of the pro-life Mexico City policy turned back an attempt to table the amendment in a 53-43 vote July 9, then gained passage of the measure on a voice vote. The amendment was added to the authorization bill for the State Department.

Pro-life advocates are optimistic the House of Representatives will not include such an amendment in its State Department authorization bill. Assuming the House version does not include the amendment, pro-lifers also are hopeful the conference committee appointed to work out differences in the two bills will drop the amendment from the final bill.

President Bush reinstituted the Mexico City policy promptly after taking office in 2001. President Clinton had rescinded the policy -- which was established by President Reagan in 1984 -- shortly after he moved into the White House in 1993.

The policy, named after the site of the population conference where it was announced by the United States, bans government funds from going to international organizations that perform abortions or "actively promote abortion as a method of family planning." Abortions are permitted in cases of endangerment to the mother's life, as well as rape and incest. Promotion of abortion includes lobbying foreign governments to liberalize their abortion policies.

Only one Democrat, Sen. John Breaux of Louisiana, voted to table the amendment, which was sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D.-Calif. Nine Republicans voted against tabling the amendment, thereby supporting Boxer's proposal. They were Sens. Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Gordon Smith of Oregon, Olympia Snowe of Maine, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Ted Stevens of Alaska and John Warner of Virginia.


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