Senate panel repeals 'global gag rule' on abortion funding

Senate appropriators voted 18-12 on Thursday to reinstate funding for family-planning programs abroad, setting up a clash with the House.

The amendment to the $52.1 billion foreign aid and operations bill was introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). It permanently repeals the so-called “global gag rule,” which bars federal funding for nonprofit groups that promote or provide abortions.

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“House Republicans continue efforts to put politics in the way of vital health care for women by attempting to reinstate the global gag rule,” Lautenberg said in a statement. “This amendment ensures this backwards policy never returns and protects access to family planning services for some of the world’s poorest women.”

Senate Republicans said the amendment could derail the bipartisan bill by creating an insurmountable clash with the House. The House Appropriations Committee voted down a similar amendment 23-27 last week.

“This is where we break apart,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.) voted against the amendment, while Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) sided with Democrats.