Permanent Reversal of the Mexico City Policy?
By Stephen Phelan
Analysts on the Hill are offering predictions about what a badly chastened lame duck Congress might attempt to do before some 65 or so of them have to clean out their offices. One possible scenario is that Democrats may try to jam through some overdue budget legislation — work put off not only so that incumbents could go home and try to save their jobs, but also so they could postpone adding to the obscene federal deficit until after the elections.
One of these pending pieces of legislation is S. 3676, the FY 2011 appropriations bill for State and Foreign Operations. The 2010 “SFOP”, ultimately passed as part of a huge omnibus bill, attracted the attention of pro-lifers not only because it contained over $700 million for “family planning” and related initiatives, including $55 million for the serially corrupt, anti-life United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). It also contained language added by the bill’s author, senior senator from New Jersey, Frank Lautenberg, which would have amounted to a permanent reversal of the Mexico City Policy, an executive order prohibiting funding for abortion abroad that was rescinded by President Obama two days after taking office. Due to some arm-twisting behind the scenes, the language was removed before the bill was signed by the president as part of an omnibus bill.
Well, like a bad penny, the “Lautenberg Amendment” (Sec. 7088 of the bill forwarded by the Senate committee) is back in the 2011 bill, with the effect of amending the Foreign Assistance Act to prevent any future reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy. Under Presidents Reagan and Bush 41 and 43, the policy was, in effect, cutting off the possibility of any taxpayer dollars going to fund abortion abroad: but if the Lautenberg amendment were to remain in the bill and it passed, no president would ever be able to reinstate a ban on funding abortion abroad with federal dollars.
It is possible that Pelosi, Reid & co. may decide to cut their losses and make a token, half-hearted effort to pass another massive omnibus spending bill, but ultimately leave it to the next Congress to get something done. But if they do decide to go for broke and try to force through a massive omnibus bill including the amendment, pro-lifers will have to spring into action. Pressure will have to be put on key senators, some of whom may be vulnerable in 2012, to make sure that the Lautenberg language stays out of the final bill.
Senator Lautenberg is just one of many radical pro-abortion pols who will continue to use every means possible to enshrine abortion in federal policy, despite the promises of President Obama. Pro-lifers must make sure that the optimism following the mid-term election victories not turn into complacency.
Stephen Phelan is Communications Director for Human Life International.