House Panel Votes to Expand and Codify the Global Gag Rule
The House Foreign Relations Committee voted Thursday to reinstate and expand a ban on funding for family planning programs in developing countries that counsel or provide information to women or advocate on a full range of options, including abortion. The ban would be an expansion of the policy, eliminating all funding for family planning programs that discuss abortion without making any exceptions for certain programs such as funds for HIV/AIDS.
Commonly referred to as the Global Gag Rule, President Ronald Reagan implemented it through an executive order; President Clinton rescinded the executive order; President George W. Bush reinstated the executive order; and President Obama rescinded it.
On the second day of a marathon session, Ranking Democrat Howard Berman (CA) proposed an amendment to the State Department and foreign operations authorization bill that would take out the restrictive language that bans such funding. Berman argued that the policy "prevents poor women and families around the world from gaining access to essential information and health care services." The Berman amendment failed by a 17 to 25 vote, which was mostly along party lines - all but one Democrat, Representative Ben Chandler (KY), voted for the Berman amendment.
Media Resources: Washington Post 7/21/11; The Cable 7/21/11