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Planned Parenthood Commends Senate Appropriations Committee for Defending Women’s Reproductive Rights in Foreign-Ops Spending Bill
Planned Parenthood commends the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Affairs, and Related Programs — and in particular, chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) — for drafting a spending proposal that defends women’s access to essential reproductive health care.
The funding measure contains a provision that would amend the Peace Corps’ total ban on abortion care by providing access to abortion services to volunteers who have been sexually assaulted, and in cases of incest or life endangerment. This FY12 provision was included in the State and Foreign Operations funding measure approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday evening. Planned Parenthood opposes the current Peace Corps policy, which denies all coverage for abortion care services, even in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the mother is endangered.
“As a former Peace Corps volunteer, I am heartened by this small step forward in rectifying the Peace Corps’ discriminatory policies against female volunteers,” said Latanya Mapp Frett, vice president – Global, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “The women of the Peace Corps put themselves at increased risk of sexual assault in service to their country. It is high time the U.S. recognizes the reproductive rights of its volunteers by providing them with comprehensive medical care in such critical moments.”
In addition, the measure would include a modest increase in U.S. spending for family planning — from $615 to $700 million. The additional funding would help make up for the disproportionate cuts the program faced this fiscal year.
The Senate Appropriations Committee also passed an amendment authored by Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) that would permanently repeal the global gag rule. The gag rule, sometimes referred to as the Mexico City Policy, was first introduced by President Reagan and most recently rescinded by President Obama. When in place, it prohibited foreign family planning agencies from receiving U.S. funding if they provide, counsel, refer, or lobby for abortion services, even with their own funding.
Senator Lautenberg’s amendment to repeal the gag rule mirrors language in the Global Democracy Promotion Act recently introduced in both the House and the Senate. The Global Democracy Promotion Act would prohibit U.S. policymakers from attaching restrictions to foreign assistance that bar recipients of U.S. funding from carrying out activities that are legal both in their countries and the U.S.