By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 13, 2009 ( – The Senate Appropriations Committee voted Thursday to codify President Obama's overthrow of the Mexico City Policy by approving an amendment to open U.S. funding for abortion-promoting non-governmental organizations (NGOs) worldwide.

The abortion amendment was offered by Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ) to the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill (S.1434) and was co-sponsored by Senators Leahy (D-VT), Mikulski (D-MD), Murray (D-WA), and Collins (R-ME).  The committee favored the amendment 17-11, allowing it to be considered by the Senate.

Instituted by Ronald Reagan in 1984, the Mexico City Policy bans taxpayer dollars from funding international groups that perform or promote abortions.  The policy has gone in and out of use depending on the political party in the White House: Bill Clinton immediately rescinded the policy by executive order, and George W. Bush reinstated it before President Obama overturned it once more.  However, the new amendment would codify President Obama's executive order and prevent future pro-life presidents from reviving the policy by executive order. 

Lautenberg's amendment states that overseas organizations “shall not be ineligible for such assistance solely onthe basis of health or medical services, including counseling and referral services … if such services are permitted in the country in which they are being provided.”

International abortion NGOs such as Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes, who are now eligible for U.S. funds, constitute perhaps the primary force behind the spread of abortion worldwide by both providing abortion and aggressively lobbying pro-life nations to dismantle legal protection for the unborn.

The bill assigns $628.5 million for international family planning without the protections of the Mexico City policy, $50 million of which will fund the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).  Though the UNFPA claims it resists coercive population control policies, recent investigations have confirmed earlier proof pointing to the UNFPA's complicity in China's one-child policy tactics including forced abortion and sterilization.

In the House version of the bill Wednesday, pro-life legislators also met with defeat, after the Democrat-controlled Rules Committee rejected an amendment that would have explicitly restored the Mexico City Policy.

The rescinding of the Mexico City Policy was the least popular among the surveyed early actions of President Obama.  While approval ratings for his other actions hovered around 75%, only 35% approved of Obama's decision to provide U.S. foreign aid for abortion groups. 

See related coverage:

Congress Squashes Latest Attempts to Revive Mexico City Policy  

New On-the-Ground Investigations Confirm UNFPA Complicity in China's Coercive Population Policy