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Feminist News


October-20-09

Permanent Repeal of Global Gag Rule Faces Opposition

An amendment to the 2010 Senate Foreign Operations Spending Bill that would permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule is drawing protest from anti-choice groups. National Right to Life Committee Legislative Director Douglas Johnson told the Congressional Quarterly that his organization is preparing to fight the bill. "If the leadership wants to use this as a vehicle to make a permanent change in the president's authority and foreign policy, there are senators that are going to have a lot of other ideas...and maybe Sen. Reid should plan on spending a couple of weeks on this," Johnson said, referring to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

In July, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment introduced by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) that would overturn the "Mexico City Policy" first passed by President Reagan in 1984. The policy was repealed by President Clinton, reinstituted by George W. Bush and rescinded by President Obama in January. The policy bars international aid organizations that receive US funds from using any funds (from the US or other sources) to provide abortion counseling and services, according to the Center for Health and Gender Equity.

Senator Lautenberg told Congressional Quarterly that his amendment would allow international aid organizations to operate without the uncertainty of constantly changing rules. "Health care providers across the globe should be able to care for the health of women and families without ideological obstacles blocking the way," he said.

The House version of the foreign spending bill, while increasing funding for family planning programs, does not include any provision to overturn the Global Gag Rule. The House passed the bill in July by a vote of 318-106.

Media Resources: Congressional Quarterly 10/16/09; Center for Health and Gender Equity 1/09; Feminist Daily Newswire 7/10/09