Rep. Nita Lowey: Expanding 'Global Gag Rule' Compromises U.S. Ability to Support Life-Saving Care

By Melanie Arter | March 27, 2019 | 2:34pm EDT
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) (Screenshot)

( - During a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) criticized Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s expansion of enforcement of the Mexico City policy, which blocks federal funding of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that promote abortion.

During the State Department budget hearing by the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Lowey used part of her opening remarks to blast efforts by the administration to expand enforcement of the global gag rule.


“Before I address the president’s inadequate 2020 budget request, I must respond to the Mexico City announcement you made yesterday. Your additional expansion of the Global Gag rule compromises our ability to support comprehensive life-saving care to those most in need,” she said.

“International NGOs should not be forced to choose between accepting life-saving assistance from the United States or providing legal comprehensive care with their own funds. This policy expansion could dramatically impede the effectiveness of our foreign assistance and life-saving programs, not to mention this type of coercion runs contrary to the basic tenets of freedom that our country was founded upon,” Lowey added.


Meanwhile, ranking member Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) expressed support in his opening remarks for the State’s Department’s efforts to expand enforcement of the Mexico City policy.

“You have my unwavering support for your efforts to protect the rights of the unborn. We were not provided with the details of your announcement yesterday, but I look forward to receiving a full readout of your plans,” Rogers said.

As previously reported, Pompeo announced Tuesday that he has directed his “team to take all appropriate action” to implement the Mexico City policy “to the broadest extent possible.”

“Today I’m announcing further refinements to advance our efforts to protect the least amongst us. As before, we’ll continue to refuse to provide assistance to foreign NGOs who perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning,” he said.

The secretary also said he was cracking down on NGOs that try to do an end-run around the Mexico City policy by giving money to other foreign groups in the abortion industry.

“Now, as a result of my decision today, we are also making clear we will refuse to provide assistance to foreign NGOs that give financial support to other foreign groups in the global abortion industry. We will enforce a strict prohibition on back-door funding schemes and end-runs around our policy. American taxpayer dollars will not be used to underwrite abortions,” he said.

Secondly, Pompeo said the State Department is “fully enforcing federal law prohibiting the use of U.S. funds, including foreign assistance to lobby for or against abortion, otherwise known as the Siljander amendment.”

“In light of recent evidence of abortion-related advocacy by an organ of the Organization of American States, I directed my team to include a provision in foreign assistance agreements with the OAS that explicitly prohibits the use of funds to lobby or against abortion,” he said.

The secretary said the U.S. also planned to reduce its contributions to the OAS.



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