Last night, despite President Bush’s veto threat, the Senate passed the FY 2008 State-Foreign Operations Appropriations bill (by a vote of 81-12) that includes significant provisions overturning destructive policies on family planning and HIV/AIDS. Thanks to the leadership and commitment of Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the Senate bill not only includes the identical measures in the House-passed bill (H.R. 2764) — exempting contraceptives from the Global Gag Rule and repealing the abstinence-only funding restrictions for HIV prevention programs — it goes even further by repealing the Gag Rule entirely.
This repudiation of some of the most egregious and harmful aspects of U.S. international family planning and reproductive health policy marks a major — and long overdue — victory for sound public health. And to put it in historical perspective, the Senate vote today is the first time since the Gag Rule has been in force — from 1984 to 1993 and again since 2001 — that both the House and the Senate have passed legislation to repeal or modify the restriction. This is significant in light of the all-important showdown that looms with the White House over President Bush’s threatened veto of the entire $34 billion foreign assistance bill over the Gag Rule provisions.
The Senate 53-41 vote in favor of an amendment to repeal the Gag Rule, sponsored by Senators Boxer (D-CA) and Snowe (R-ME), is a victory for the tens of millions of poor women overseas who have been victimized by the Gag Rule and lack basic reproductive health care such as contraceptives. It’s a powerful recognition of the Gag Rule’s devastating impact on family planning programs.
From that video:
On his second day in office, President George W. Bush reinstated the Mexico City Policy, also known as the Global Gag Rule, a set of restrictions that prohibits overseas NGOs from providing abortion related services even counseling or referrals with their own separate funds. In order to receive U.S. family planning funds organizations must give up their free speech rights by promising not to engage in political advocacy on abortion, even in counties like Zambia, where abortion is legal.
“So in one breath, the U.S. is telling my government to promote human rights, good government. In the other breath it’s saying ‘Can you take away the rights of women to know about all the issues that surround their reproductive health?’ and one of them will be abortion anyway.”
“Think of the children” is supposedly the mantra of the anti-choice movement. Never let that lie go unchallenged. If the anti-choice crowd really gave a damn about the children, they wouldn’t be condemning millions of men, women, and children to death by HIV/AIDS and botched coat-hanger abortions by tying our financial aid to untenable religious doctrines that have been debunked and repeatedly proven to be ineffective.
The Global Gag Rule is about enforcing a particular brand of extremist religion around the world by means of coercion and extortion.
It is overdue for an ignominious death.
From whence came the art:
That stunning photograph is titled Zimbabwe 1, by babasteve, and I can not help but be reminded of the thoughts of Benjamin Franklin contemplating the half sun on the back of George Washington’s chair in 1787: “I have often looked at that picture behind the president without being able to tell whether it was a rising or setting sun. Now at length I have the happiness to know that it is indeed a rising, not a setting sun.”