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Pro-abortion GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine speaks at a Washington, DC, conference in 2013. Stuart Isett/Fortune Most Powerful Women
Lisa Correnti

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Two Republican senators fighting hard to preserve abortion overseas

Lisa Correnti

June 29, 2018 (C-Fam) – Two pro-abortion Republican lawmakers and their Democrat colleagues used the foreign operations funding bill to obstruct various Trump administration pro-life advances.

At issue is the 2019 State and Foreign Operations bill. Senate Democrats offered an amendment that redirects funding for children with malaria and tuberculosis, and prioritizes population control money to protect "biodiversity and endangered species." The amendment would undo the Mexico City Policy, which forbids American health money from going to abortion groups overseas. Additionally, the amendment would restore funding for the UN Population Fund that has been implicated in the Chinese one-child policy.

The Republican drafted bill had capped funding for international family planning and reproductive health at pre-Obama levels – $461 million and eliminated funding for the United Nations Population Fund.

Republican appropriators also maintained pro-life policy riders including the Tiahrt Amendment that ensures family planning programs are voluntary, the Helms Amendment banning foreign aid for abortions, and keeps the Kemp-Kasten Amendment that prohibits funds to organizations the President determines support coercive abortion.

Both the Senate and House draft bills codified President Trump's executive action prohibiting global health assistance to foreign organizations that perform or promote abortion through the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (known colloquially as Mexico City Policy).

A Republican majority in the House dismissed hostile attempts by abortion proponents in the past. During last week's hearing in the full appropriation committee Democrats recycled debunked statistics on unmet need for contraception and proposed three hostile amendments aiming to increase funding for overseas abortions. All were defeated.

New in the House debate this year was a Democrat challenge to insert a right to abortion by mandating the State Department include a section on the "status of reproductive rights" in the annual country reports on Human Rights. Under the Obama administration countries were included for having restrictive abortion laws as the case with Ireland. The Trump administration removed reproductive rights as a reporting requirement responding to critics that abortion was not included "because it's not a human right."

Though the House bill survived intact, the situation was markedly different in the Senate committee where population funding has been maintained at $630 million despite Republican control.

For the past five years Senator Jeanne Shaheen's (D-NH) hostile amendment has passed due to two Republican abortion supporters on the committee, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Conservative organizations are considering a request to senior Republican leadership to have the senators reassigned.

The Democratic amendment this year requires a floor of $595M and funds UNFPA with $37.5M, permanently repeals Mexico City Policy restoring funding to overseas groups that perform abortion and lobby to change pro-life laws, and specifically calls for population control programs "in areas where population growth threatens biodiversity and endangered species."

The Shaheen amendment strips targeted appropriation funding from "child survival, malaria and tuberculosis" replacing it with more general "global health and child survival activities" opening the door for programming to be determined by the implementing organization.

Recently a Nigerian OB/GYN told the Friday Fax that clinics lack antibiotics but have an abundance of contraception. "We need anti-malarial, antibiotics, haematinics etc. How I wish the funds are used to help these women and not to achieve the donors dreams."

The House and Senate bills are expected to be reconciled in conference by House and Senate leadership.

 Published with permission from C-Fam.

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