(CNSNews.com) - For more than 20 years, when a Republican has been in the White House, international family planning organizations that either discuss or perform abortions have been barred from receiving U.S. taxpayer dollars. Pro-abortion activists continue to be angry about what they call a "global gag rule."
The regulation, formally known as the Mexico City Policy, is a "disgrace" said Rev. Jane Holmes Dixon, a retired Episcopal bishop from Washington, D.C., and member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC). She complained that under the Bush administration, "international family planning, maternal health and child survival programs have been cut to their lowest levels in years."
"This is a disgrace for a country that prides itself on its generosity to those in need and its commitment to the fundamental dignity and equality of every human being," Dixon stated.
Dixon and other members of the RCRC are backing legislation introduced by U.S. Reps. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.) that, according to McCollum's website, "would extend access to voluntary family planning to families in the poorest countries."
The Mexico City Policy, implemented by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1984, was suspended for eight years when Democrat Bill Clinton served as president between 1993 and 2001. But two days after taking office, President George W. Bush reinstated the policy.
"It is my conviction that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortions or advocate, or actively promote abortion -- either here or abroad. It is therefore my belief that the Mexico City Policy should be restored," Bush announced on Jan. 22, 2001.
McCollum's bill -- H.R. 4188 -- would add $600 million in the 2007 budget for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to support "contraceptive procurement, logistical support, education, training and integration with HIV/AIDS activities in developing countries."
Rabbi Scott Sperling, director of the Union for Reform Judaism Mid-Atlantic Council said funding for international family planning helps reduce the number of abortions.
"For over 40 years, the United States has included family planning services as part of the aid we provide in the developing world. We know that our support for family planning information and services is critically important in reducing maternal and infant deaths, and preventing abortions," said Sperling.
But Janice Shaw Crouse, a senior fellow at the pro-life group, Concerned Women for America, called the plea for more international family planning money "very sad."
"They [abortion supporters] are upset because when you look at the United Nations documents, anytime international family planning is mentioned, that is just code for abortion. They are upset at the amount of money that is being reduced for abortions," Crouse told Cybercast News Service .
While President Bush's 2007 budget earmarks $357 million for international family planning -- $79 million less than the $436 million appropriated for 2006 - it is a minimal reduction compared to other international programs being funded by the U.S., Crouse said.
"The Bush administration is funding programs to make women's lives easier," she said. Crouse praised the White House for ensuring that the United States "will not provide money in the United States or elsewhere -- federal money, which is tax money from citizens -- to promote abortion, because the majority of Americans do not want to have federal funds support abortion."
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