WASHINGTON, D.C., July 25, 2011 ( – Human Rights Watch, a human rights organization that also advocates for legalized access to abortion, has attacked an attempt by U.S. lawmakers to strip federal funding from international population control groups that support abortion.

Last Wednesday the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted on language to reinstate the Reagan-era Mexico City policy, which prohibits U.S. foreign aid dollars from going to overseas groups that perform or promote abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, or threat to the life of the mother.

The committee also voted to bar funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in the Foreign Affairs Authorization Act for fiscal year 2012. Previous investigations have concluded UNFPA is complicit in China’s brutal population control policy.

However, Human Rights Watch said U.S. lawmakers should oppose any attempt to cut off funding for abortion promoting organizations, calling the Mexico City Policy the “global gag rule” for abortion groups.

“The Global Gag Rule has exacted a terrible cost in damage to the health of millions of women and the free speech rights of people around the world,” stated Meghan Rhoad, an HRW researcher. “It should be considered a shameful piece of past foreign policy, not a model for the future.”

President Obama struck down the Mexico City policy by Executive Order three days after his inauguration in January 2009. His administration also restored $50 million in annual aid to the UNFPA with no comment about the China allegations, and has ignored further investigations by the Population Research Institute (PRI) confirming the UNFPA’s continued complicity in the gross maltreatment of Chinese citizens.

Earlier in the month, the U.S. Catholics bishops’ committee dealing with social justice issues and Catholic Relief Services urged U.S. House lawmakers to reinstate the ban on UNFPA funding and the Mexico City Policy.

Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Catholic Relief Services president Ken Hackett, wrote that their organizations “stand ready to work with leaders of both parties for a budget that reduces future deficits, protects poor and vulnerable people at home and abroad, advances the common good, and promotes human life and dignity.”