The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday backed an effort to repeal a controversial U.S. policy known as the “global gag rule,” which blocks funds from any international group offering abortion services.
In a surprising show of support, three Republicans backed the amendment: Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsWelcome to ground zero of climate chaos A tale of two chambers: Trump's power holds in House, wanes in Senate Bipartisan blip: Infrastructure deal is last of its kind without systemic change MORE (R-Maine), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiEmboldened Trump takes aim at GOP foes The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - DC prepares for Saturday of festivals & Jan. 6 demonstration Republican leaders misjudged Jan. 6 committee MORE (R-Alaska) and Mark KirkMark Steven KirkDuckworth announces reelection bid Brave new world: Why we need a Senate Human Rights Commission Senate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls MORE (R-Ill.).
Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSenate lawmakers let frustration show with Blinken We have a plan that prioritizes Afghanistan's women — we're just not using it Scott Brown's wife files to run for Congress MORE (D-N.H.) proposed the policy change as part of the $48 billion fiscal 2016 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, which was approved by the full committee Thursday.
Her amendment would also restore about $600 million in funding for international contraceptive services, which goes to agencies like the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which would receive $35 million.
That program offers family planning services to 28 million women, which helps avert 6 million unintended pregnancies and 2.4 million induced abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Under the global gag rule, no agency or organization can receive aid from the U.S. if they perform or advise women about abortions, even if the procedure is legal in that country.
The amendment would codify an action already taken by the Obama administration to skirt the rule.
The rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy, was first created by the Reagan administration. It is in addition to another long-standing policy known as the Helms Amendment that blocks U.S. aid from funding abortions in nearly all cases.
The Obama administration, working with Senate Democrats, has prevented the global gag rule from taking effect since 2011, when Republicans began adding the restriction into annual spending bills. But some reproductive health groups had feared it could be reinstated now that Republicans control the chamber.
“Providing greater access to family planning and reproductive health services improves the health of mothers and children, empowers women to make their own choices about how to grow their families, and is a smart investment that helps reduce poverty,” Shaheen wrote in a statement.