For immediate release:
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
For more information:
Derrick Jones, (202) 626-8825
Senators Bennet and Udall vote to fund groups that
promote abortion as a birth control method
WASHINGTON – The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the nation’s largest pro-life organization, today sharply criticized Senator Michael Bennet and Senator Mark Udall for voting in favor of providing tax funds to overseas organizations that perform or promote abortion as a method of birth control.
Under a policy of President George W. Bush from 2001-2008, known as the “Mexico City Policy,” funds appropriated to the U.S. “population assistance” program went only to overseas organizations that pledged not to perform or promote abortion as a birth control method. However, on January 23, 2009, President Obama issued a directive that nullified that policy.
Today, Senator Mel Martinez (R-Fl.) offered an amendment that would reverse the Obama order, and restore a ban on tax funding of overseas organizations “that performs or actively promotes abortion as a method of birth control.” The amendment, which was supported by NRLC, failed on a vote of 60-37, with Senators Bennet and Udall voting against it.
“It is regrettable that Senator Bennet and Senator Udall would vote to direct hundreds of millions of tax dollars to private organizations that perform or promote abortion as a method of birth control, which can only lead to more abortions,” said NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson.
“The votes by Senator Bennet and Senator Udall are all the more troubling when we consider that this was just the first in a series of pro-abortion policy changes that will be pushed forward by the Obama Administration,” Johnson said. “In the months ahead, we expect to see an attempt to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which would result in tax-funded abortion as a birth control method in the United States, and imposition of sweeping pro-abortion mandates on private employers through health-care reform legislation.”
Contrary to some misunderstandings, enforcement of the Mexico City Policy did not reduce the amount of money spent on the overseas family-planning program, nor will Obama’s order increase the amount (which is $461 million in the current fiscal year). Rather, the policy affects what type of groups qualify for grants under the program.
“Obama’s order will predictably result in a redirection of funds to groups which perform abortions and are ideologically committed to the doctrine that abortion on demand must be universally available as a birth control method,” Johnson said.
The details of the Mexico City Policy are spelled out in an official handbook issued by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which is available on request from NRLC (in PDF format). Basically, the policy required grantees to refrain from performing abortions (except to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest), or lobbying to legalize abortion, or otherwise promoting abortion as a family-planning method. The policy explicitly allowed responding to questions about where abortions may be obtained, in countries in which abortions are legal.
The National Right to Life Committee is the nation’s largest pro-life group with affiliates in all 50 states and over 3,000 local chapters nationwide. National Right to Life works through legislation and education to protect those threatened by abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and assisted suicide.
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