- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 4, 2021

Senate Republicans introduced Thursday legislation to ban taxpayer dollars from paying for abortions overseas, seeking to reverse President Biden’s order reopening foreign-aid funding to organizations abroad that promote or perform abortions.

Mr. Biden signed last week a presidential memorandum rescinding the Reagan-era Mexico City Policy, known to its critics as the “global gag rule,” but the American Values Act would permanently ban U.S. foreign assistance for abortions and forced sterilizations.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Jim Risch, Idaho Republican and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, with GOP Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Todd Young of Indiana.

“For decades, Congress has worked to ensure that U.S. foreign assistance would not be used to perform or promote abortions services,” Mr. Risch said. “Unfortunately, pro-abortion groups have set their sights on exploiting loopholes and even overturning the long-standing pro-life provisions of law that have provided a solid foundation for values-based U.S. foreign assistance. It is time for Congress to take decisive action and eliminate any ambiguity about how these provisions are meant to be applied.”

The Mexico City Policy has see-sawed between Democratic and Republican administrations. Every Democratic president since Bill Clinton has rescinded it while every Republican president has reenacted it, but placing the policy into law would stop the executive back-and-forth.

“This proposal would end attempts to trick the system and help ensure foreign assistance funding will go to those in need – not be used for abortion services overseas,” said Mr. Young.

The bill is unlikely to pass the Democratic-controlled Congress, but Mr. Rubio said he remained “committed to ensuring that the taxpayer dollars of hard working Americans are never spent on abortions at home or overseas.”

Under the legislation, prohibitions on the “performance or promotion of abortions, forced sterilizations, or biomedical research relating to abortions or forced sterilizations shall apply to all assistance under the Foreign Assistance Act.”

Planned Parenthood CEO Alexis McGill Johnson applauded the administration for ending “the devastating global gag rule, which has prevented millions of people around the world from receiving essential health care.”

A 2020 report by the Government Accountability Office found that international non-governmental organizations declined about $150 million in U.S. foreign-aid funding in 2017-18 rather than stop performing abortions, advocating for abortion rights, or promoting abortion as a method of family planning.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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