Mexico City Policy Left Intact in Budget Bill

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:23 PM EDT

( - In a victory for the Bush administration, Democrats have ended their fight to reverse the president's ban on aid to family planning groups overseas that provide abortions.

The Mexico City policy was kept intact in the 2008 foreign aid budget that is now part of the $500 billion-plus omnibus spending bill. While conservatives praised the development, they expressed disapproval with the fact that the budget bill provides an increase in funding to Planned Parenthood.

The Family Research Council applauded Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) "for successfully blocking attempts by pro-abortion forces within Congress to overturn the President's Mexico City policy and pour U.S. taxpayer dollars into the coffers of abortion groups."

"The bi-partisan effort in Congress to preserve this pro-life policy is consistent with public opinion which overwhelmingly opposes forcing taxpayers to finance abortions either in this country or overseas. America is known for exporting many things, chief among them freedom and democracy," said FRC President Tony Perkins.

"This victory ensures that America will not also become known as an exporter of death," he said in a statement.

Perkins said the budget bill is not all good news. Among other things, it allocates more money for the nation's largest abortion provider and for the first time ever pays for a controversial needle exchange program.

"Despite this pro-life victory, the overall appropriations bill is a glut of wasteful spending with thousands of unnecessary earmarks. The bill also increases funding for the abortion provider Planned Parenthood to $300 million and for the first time allows fungible funds to pay for dangerous needle exchange programs in Washington, D.C.," Perkins said.

"We urge Congress to reject this massive spending spree which increases the debt load of American families and paves the way for future tax increases," he concluded.

While Concerned Women for America also does not support the overall spending bill, the group praised the president's efforts to protect the unborn.

"While this bill has problems, we are glad that it would neither force Americans to subsidize abortions nor provide federal funding to force people to participate in abortion, an abhorrent elective procedure that kills babies and harms women," said Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America.

"We are thankful to the Members of Congress who fought for these pro-life measures and the thousands of Americans who urged their elected officials to uphold these moral provisions that ensure our tax dollars do not encourage abortion," Wright said.

While NARAL Pro-Choice America expressed regret at the lost opportunity to repeal what it calls the global gag rule, it commended Congress for prioritizing family-planning funds over failed "abstinence-only" programs.

"This legislation shows that elections truly do matter," said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "For the first time in recent memory, congressional leaders are making a clear investment in family planning, while finally putting the brakes on Bush's failed 'abstinence-only' programs.

"I am pleased that the new leadership in Congress is putting Americans' best interests first, rather than responding to the president's political ideological agenda," said Keenan.

"As a former teacher and state superintendent of education, I applaud our pro-choice leaders in Congress for agreeing that it is unacceptable to funnel millions of dollars into programs that mislead our teens and jeopardize their health. We look forward to continuing our work to end funding for these dangerous and discredited programs," she added.

"This dogmatic adherence to an illogical position diminishes our influence around the world and prevents us from working effectively to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and unintended pregnancies and reduce abortions," said Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the House State and Foreign Operations Appropriations subcommittee.

"It is unconscionable for a president to ignore the majority of the members of Congress, the majority of Americans and the best interests of millions of human beings because he is blinded by his own narrow beliefs," said Amy Coen, president of Population Action International. "Today, the shadow of one man darkens the lives of so many."

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