Democrat-Held House Signals Abortion a Priority Issue

By | January 10, 2019

WASHINGTON DC, January 11 (C-Fam) Back in control of the U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues’ first order of business was to add overseas abortion funding in a spending bill.

The House passed the consolidated government funding bill last Thursday 241-190 containing a “poison pill” which surely eliminates any possibility of the Senate taking it up. However, it did signal to abortion rights groups that invested millions of dollars in the 2018 midterm election that abortion would be a priority issue for the new Democrat-held chamber.

The funding bill spearheaded by abortion proponent Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, includes a provision attempting to revoke President Trump’s executive action prohibiting federal funding to any foreign non-government organization that performs or promotes abortion “as a method of family planning.”

Formerly known as the Mexico City Policy and now expanded to cover not just international family planning money but also most global health funding—the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy has resulted in some international abortion clinics closing their doors.

Prior to the vote the White House released a statement opposing passage of H.R. 21, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019, and H.J. Res 1, the Homeland Security funding bill, which sought to end the government shutdown and fund much of the government until September 30, 2019.

The White House opposed a $700 million increase to the United Nations, including restoring funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), as well as the revocation of the Mexico City Policy.

“The bill would also undermine the President’s Mexico City Policy (Presidential Memorandum of January 23, 2017), which prohibits the funding of foreign nongovernmental organizations that promote or perform abortions,” the statement read.

In addition, the statement objected to the absence of the $5 billion President Trump asked as a priority to fortify the U.S.-Mexico border.

In response to the proposed elimination of the pro-life protections instituted by President Trump Congressman Chris Smith issued a strong rebuke from the House floor.

“Madam Speaker, if reopening the government is the goal, if ending the shutdown is the goal, why does this appropriations package contain a brand-new poison pill rider,” said Smith, former Chairman of the Committee on Africa and Global Health and leader of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus.

“For years, pro-abortion organizations have used U.S. taxpayer funds to weaken, undermine or reverse pro-life laws in other nations, and destroy precious lives of these children,” Smith correctly pointed out.

Pro-life organizations maintain that while the expanded Mexico City policy has slowed these efforts, it certainly has not stopped them. Many international abortion clinics remain eligible for funding due to the broad exceptions in the Mexico City Policy—when the life of the mother is at risk and in cases of incest and rape.

Of over 700 groups that had to sign the Mexico City Policy requirements to continue to receive U.S. funds, only four refused to comply, Marie Stopes International and International Planned Parenthood Federation are among them.

Because of the broad exceptions, the U.S. family planning and AIDS/HIV funds remain an essential part of the operational budget of many other groups that promote and perform abortion. Once in a country they skillfully promote and perform abortion, tailoring their advocacy and activities to the exceptions as broadly interpreted as possible.

Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell dismissed the House bill, saying that the Senate would not consider it.