May 25, 2012 — The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday voted 18-12 to approve an amendment that would permanently repeal the "global gag rule" and authorize funding for international family planning programs, The Hill's "Global Affairs" reports (Pecquet, "Global Affairs," The Hill, 5/24).
The global gage rule, which President Obama lifted through an executive order in 2009, blocks U.S. foreign aid to organizations that use their own money to offer abortion services or even provide information about or referrals for abortion services (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/18).
The amendment, approved as part of the Senate State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs bill, sets up a clash with the House ("Global Affairs," The Hill, 5/24). Last week, the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to its version of the bill that would reinstate the global gag rule and eliminate funding to the United Nations Population Fund (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/18).
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who sponsored the Senate amendment, said, "House Republicans continue efforts to put politics in the way of vital health care for women by attempting to reinstate the global gag rule." He added, "This amendment ensures this backwards policy never returns and protects access to family planning services for some of the world's poorest women" ("Global Affairs," The Hill, 5/25).
The funding bill also includes a provision that would allow coverage of abortion care for women in the Peace Corps in cases of rape, incest or if a pregnancy threatened a woman's life. The provision, also sponsored by Lautenberg, would make abortion coverage for Peace Corps volunteers consistent with other federal programs (Lautenberg Press Office release, 5/24).