House Bill Reinstates 'Global Gag Rule,' Cuts All Funds for United Nations Population Fund

A House panel has approved today a 2013 State Department funding bill that reinstates the Mexico City Policy, also known as the "global gag rule," and eliminates all funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) had offered an amendment to take out anti-abortion restrictions to the bill to the House Appropriations Committee saying, "These provisions will leave millions of women without access to critical and lifesaving services. If we don't pass this, women will die." Lowey added, "They will die having their 17th child."

Peter Yeo, vice president of public policy at the United Nations Foundation, wrote on The Hill's Congress blog that the bill "flies in the face" of voters' wishes. "Americans agree that the UN's reproductive health programs are critical to the health and safety of women around the world. Ending funding for UNFPA flies in the face of what 79 percent of Americans think the UN should be doing."

"This bill would harm women around the world. The United States should lead on global family planning, not undermine it," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement.

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The Hill's On the Money blog:

House panel approves State funding bill with anti-abortion language

The House Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved a 2013 State Department funding bill that includes controversial anti-abortion language.

The markup featured heated rhetoric between Democrats and Republicans, who sought to portray each other as hurting women, a crucial swing constituency in the fall elections. [...]

On abortion, the bill cuts off all funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and reinstates the Mexico City policy, also known as the global gag rule. The rules says that all non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that receive U.S. funding must refrain from performing or promoting abortion services.

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), ranking member of the Appropriations foreign operations subcommittee, offered an amendment to strip out the anti-abortion restrictions, but it was defeated 23-27. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) voted for the amendment.

"These provisions will leave millions of women without access to critical and lifesaving services," Lowey argued. She said the global gag rule has been shown to have led to a doubling in the number of abortions in Africa when it was imposed by the George W. Bush administration. Lowey asserted that the provisions would result in 1.4 million more abortions once women were barred from receiving family planning services. [...]

"If we don't pass this, women will die," Lowey said. "They will die having their 17th child."

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Population Action International: Global Gag Rule

The Global Gag Rule is a previous U.S. policy that harmed women's health and ran counter to our broader U.S. foreign policy goals. The Gag Rule was first imposed by the Reagan administration at the 1984 United Nations International Conference on Population in Mexico City. It was rescinded in 1993 by President Clinton, reinstated in 2001 by President George W. Bush, and once again rescinded by President Obama in 2009.

The Gag rule denied foreign organizations receiving U.S. family planning assistance the right to use their own non-U.S. funds to provide information, referrals or services for legal abortion or advocate for the legalization abortion in their country. Family planning providers that declined U.S. funding while the Gag Rule was in place were forced to close clinics and cut services, and some of these organiza!tions have yet to resume services with U.S. government assistance, due to fears that their funding will once again be cut off under a future administration.

The Gag Rule hurts women by allowing critical programs to be held hostage to the ping-pong game of U.S. partisan politics. A majority of Americans from across the ideological spectrum support the current Administration's policy that does not impose such ideological restrictions on women's health centers. PAI advocates for a permanent legislative repeal of the Gag Rule.

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