House Democrats passed a nearly $1 trillion spending bill Wednesday that would restore taxpayer funding for international abortions. The extensive bill allocates funding for various government departments while repealing the Mexico City policy, which ends federal funding of foreign abortion agencies. The bill passed the House with a vote of 226 to 203, largely across party lines, with seven Democrats voting against the measure. The spending bill now moves to the Senate, where many of its provisions are unlikely to pass the Republican majority.
Trump enacted the Mexico City policy (referred to by some as the “global gag-rule”) shortly after taking office. The policy prohibits federal funds from supporting foreign agencies that commit or provide abortions. While the policy has historically been enacted under Republican presidents and repealed under Democratic presidents, Trump expanded its reach to prevent funds from reaching any foreign NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that in turn give to other foreign groups in the abortion industry. The additional restrictions were aimed at preventing backdoor funding of abortions.
When Trump enacted the policy, the International Planned Parenthood Foundation estimated that it would lose $100 million in federal funding. Now House Democrats want to restore that funding, despite the fact that a majority of Americans — including a majority of Democrats — oppose taxpayer-funded abortion.
“We applaud the House for passing this important bill that will repeal the disgraceful global gag rule,” Brian Dixon, spokesman for the Population Connection Action Fund, said in a statement. “The Trump administration’s assault on reproductive health and rights is having devastating consequences for people around the world.”
“We are standing up for women’s health care by pushing back on the Trump-Pence administration’s dangerous, dangerous attacks on family planning services, including abortion and contraception,” said Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro.
Cutting through the rhetoric, here is the truth: choosing not to support or fund other people’s abortions with American taxpayer dollars — not in America and not anywhere else — is not an “assault” on anyone’s so-called “rights.”
While the spending bill would allow federal funding of international abortions, it still retains the Hyde Amendment, a decades-old amendment which prohibits Medicaid (taxpayer-funded) coverage of abortions. While it has recently become a hot-button issue, Democrats historically reauthorize the amendment as part-and-parcel of broader spending packages in the hopes of appeasing their Republican counterparts. Despite its inclusion in this bill, many Democrats are expected to enhance their efforts to repeal the amendment in the future.
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