May 18, 2012 — The House Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved a fiscal year 2013 spending bill for foreign aid and other State Department programs that would eliminate funding to the United Nations Population Fund and reinstate the "global gag rule," The Hill's "On The Money" reports (Wasson, "On The Money," The Hill, 5/17).
The rule, which President Obama lifted through an executive order in 2009, blocks U.S. foreign aid to countries or organizations that use their own money to offer abortion services or support abortion rights (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/9).
The committee voted largely along party lines to reject three Democratic amendments that would have provided funding to UNFPA. One amendment, by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), would have provided $39 million to UNFPA if certain conditions were met -- such as banning funding to China, whose family planning policies are often criticized -- and removed the global gag rule provision (Anderson, CQ Today, 5/17).
The committee also rejected an amendment from Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) that would have provided funding to UNFPA for maternal health care and treating genital mutilation. A third amendment, by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), would have restored UNFPA funding for the most under-developed nations, where the U.S. Agency for International Development is not present ("On The Money," The Hill, 5/17).
A handful of Republican lawmakers supported the amendments. Democrats argued that reducing U.S. support for family planning would lead to increases in abortion, maternal mortality and sexually transmitted infection rates (CQ Today, 5/17).