The Senate voted to open federal coffers to foreign abortion providers, undermining President Bush’s policy that U.S. taxpayer money should not fund abortion Thursday.
Immediately after the Senate passed the bill, President Bush issued a Statement of Administrative Policy that reminded lawmakers of his May 3 blanket warning that he would veto any bill that weakens current federal policy or laws on abortion.
Sen. Barbara Boxer’s (D.-Calif.) amendment to a foreign aid spending bill to repeal what is known as the “Mexico City Policy” passed 53-41 Thursday evening. The final bill passed 81-12 later that night.
The “Mexico City Policy” forbids nongovernmental organizations from performing or promoting abortion for family planning purposes as a condition to receive U.S. federal money. The policy was originally enacted by President Ronald Reagan during the 1984 United Nations International Conference in Mexico City. It permits non-governmental organizations to provide abortion in cases of rape, incest or to preserve the life of the mother, but does not approve of abortion as method of contraception. President Bill Clinton suspended the policy during his term and President Bush reinstated it in 2001.
Boxer’s amendment attracted twelve cosponsors, including two Republicans senators--Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Susan Collins (Maine). Three Democratic senators campaigning for their party’s nomination for president also cosponsored Boxer’s amendment: Hillary Clinton (N.Y.), Chris Dodd (Conn.) and Barack Obama (Ill.).
“There is no doubt the bill will be vetoed if Boxer’s language is not dropped,” said Douglas Johnson, legislative director of National Right to Life. “More than a third of the Senate has already promised to sustain a veto on any pro-life issue,” Johnson said in a phone interview.
On February 1, thirty-six Republican senators signed a letter to President Bush that asked him to “veto any legislation that weakens [his] pro-life policy.” Those signers likely represent the bloc who would sustain a presidential veto on a foreign spending bill that includes language to revoke the Mexico City policy.