No Picture
News Briefs

Former HHS official: Becerra could promote abortion internationally

February 25, 2021 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., Feb 25, 2021 / 11:16 am (CNA).- A former official at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) warned Thursday that health secretary nominee Xavier Becerra could pose grave implications for the global pro-life cause.


If confirmed as HHS Secretary, Becerra’s priority in the job would be abortion, said Valerie Huber, former U.S. Special Representative for Global Women’s Health at HHS, during an interview on EWTN Pro-Life Weekly that will air Thursday night. 


“Having someone who is such a radical pro-abortion advocate will move that agenda to its limits,” Huber said. 


Becerra is currently California’s attorney general. During his tenure, he has upheld state pro-abortion laws that forced crisis pregnancy centers to advertise for abortions, and required Catholic nuns to have abortion coverage in their health plans. He has also pushed for easier access to the abortion pill regimen and supported lawsuits against abortion restrictions in other states. 


At his confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Becerra would not name a single abortion restriction that he supported. 


Huber noted the Biden administration has already allowed for U.S. global health assistance to fund international pro-abortion groups by repealing the Mexico City Policy. 


“By its being rescinded, that means that U.S. taxpayer dollars are going to be used to promote and to fund NGOs around the world who provide abortion,” Huber said. 


She said Becerra’s nomination could also have a wide-ranging impact on abortion not just within the United States, but overseas. 


“Most pro-life advocates here in the United States and citizens who don’t want their taxpayer dollars used for abortion often focus only on what’s happening here within the borders of the United States government,” Huber said. 


“What that does is gives a president and an HHS secretary who is so focused on abortion plenty of space for mischief-making that could result in abortion being deemed an international human right,” she said. 


Huber added that HHS is “ground zero for either the protection of life or the promotion of abortion.” She called Becerra “unfit” for the role of HHS secretary. 


During Becerra’s confirmation hearing this week, he was pressed by senators on his record on abortion and religious freedom. 


In one exchange during Becerra’s confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), asked Becerra why he voted against a ban on partial-birth abortion. 


Becerra replied, “When I come to these issues, I understand that we may not always agree on where to go, but I think we can find some common ground on these issues.”


Romney said, “I think we can reach common ground on many issues, but on partial-birth abortion it sounds like we’re not going to reach common ground there.”


No Picture
News Briefs

Why the Mexico City Policy is so significant

January 29, 2021 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., Jan 29, 2021 / 06:30 am (CNA).- On Thursday, President Joe Biden struck down bans on U.S. funding of international pro-abortion groups—an act that could have far-reaching consequences.


Biden on Thursday issued a sweeping presidential memorandum on “Protecting Women’s Health at Home and Abroad,” repealing the Mexico City Policy and the Trump administration’s expansion of it.


However, what is the Mexico City Policy, and why is the repeal of it so significant?


The Mexico City Policy was first instituted in 1984 by President Reagan. It is named for the location of the UN population conference at which it was announced. The policy has been rescinded by Democratic Presidents Clinton, Obama, and now Biden; it was reinstated by Republican Presidents George W. Bush and Trump during their presidential terms.


Under the policy, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) cannot distribute family planning funds to foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that perform or promote abortions.


Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), who has served as co-chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus for decades, was in office when the policy was first instituted.


He told CNA that existing policy—the Helms Amendment—had prohibited direct funding of abortions abroad, but stronger pro-life funding protections were still required.


“And the accounting trick that the pro-abortion groups were doing was that they would take the all of the U.S. funding and then tell us our money wasn’t being used to pay for abortion,” he said. “And then they would just fund abortions-on-demand, however many they wanted to do, and lobby for it.”


The Mexico City Policy, he said, “was all about saying if we care enough about the precious lives of unborn children who are going to be dismembered or chemically poisoned by an organization,” then “we’re not going to let bookkeeping tricks and accounting methods prevent us from as much protection as we can possibly provide.”


Many international pro-abortion groups that have partnered with the U.S. in the past—such as Marie Stopes International and the International Planned Parenthood Federation—aggressively promote abortion in developing countries.


“It is unrelenting,” Smith said of abortion advocacy by certain NGOs. “A lot of countries are pro-life, particularly in Africa and Latin America, and, sadly, we’re being forced to subsidize the lobbying and the performance of abortion by these groups.”


These groups work with multilateral organizations such as the United Nations and African Union to promote abortions in the developing world, he said. As an example, he noted that one NGO that received U.S. assistance wrote legislation in Kenya authorizing legal abortion.


The Mexico City Policy originally applied to around $600 million of U.S. international family planning funding. Critics call it the “global gag rule,” alleging that it silences recipients from referring for abortions or advocating for legal abortion.


However, beginning in 2017, the Trump administration not only reinstated the policy, but it also extended to more than $8 billion in global health assistance.


As pro-abortion groups withdrew from partnership with the U.S. over the pro-life requirements, their funding shortfall was not insignificant. The International Planned Parenthood Federation estimated in 2017 it would lose $100 million annually in funding, while Marie Stopes International estimated an $80 million funding shortfall.


Critics of the policy alleged that the pro-life restrictions were so broad they would hurt important global health initiatives such as AIDS relief. They argued that if NGOs forfeited U.S. foreign aid over the abortion restrictions, and the U.S. could not find suitable replacement partners, then there could be significant gaps in critical health care.


In August, a federal report found that the “vast majority” of U.S. partners in global health assistance accepted the new pro-life policies instituted by the Trump administration. For those which did not accept, either an alternative health provider, foreign governments, or donors stepped in to fill health care gaps.


Smith formerly chaired the House global health subcommittee, and in 2018 he authored a five-year extension of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). He affirmed the conclusion that there were no significant gaps in health care as a result of the policy.


“So there wasn’t a single dollar cut for any health initiative—not one. It was redirected, but in most cases it was accepted,” Smith said.


“The issue is, abortion is not health care,” he said. “It is a very violent deed, and we don’t want complicity in global abortion.”


The Trump administration also applied funding restrictions to multilateral organizations because of abortion lobbying or alleged involvement in abortions.


In 2019, the Trump administration cut funding for the Organization of American States (OAS) because of its lobbying for abortion. In 2017, it stopped funding the UN’s population fund (UNFPA) because of the fund’s partnership with China on family planning—and alleged complicity in forced abortions and sterilizations under China’s two-child policy.


On Thursday, President Biden issued a sweeping order that repealed the Mexico City Policy and restored funding to UNFPA. He instructed federal agencies to begin reaching out to global health partners, to inform them that the previous restrictions on abortion performance, advocacy, and lobbying are no longer in place.


“Now more money will be flowing to the NGOs that so aggressively promote the destruction of innocent human life,” Smith said.


In addition, on Thursday Biden instructed the Secretary of Health and Human Services—Xavier Becerra has been nominated for the position but not yet confirmed—to review the Trump administration’s “Protect Life Rule.”


That rule applied to the Title X program, set up in 1970 to subsidize family planning and contraception. The Trump administration required Title X grant recipients to not refer for abortions or be co-located with abortion clinics. The original law that created Title X said that funding could not go to “programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”


Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, withdrew from the Title X program in 2019 rather than comply with the new requirements. It forfeited an estimated $60 million annually in Title X grants by doing so.


Biden said the new prohibition on abortion referrals “puts women’s health at risk by making it harder for women to receive complete medical information.”


The idea of the Protect Life Rule was similar to the Mexico City Policy, Smith said: to ensure tax dollars don’t fund clinics where abortions are also being performed.


“We’re supporting the organization and, in this case, it’s under the same roof where babies are being dismembered or chemically poisoned,” he said.


The Biden administration is also withdrawing from the Geneva Declaration, a statement signed by the U.S. and 31 other countries in October stating that abortion is not an international human right.


Biden’s support for abortion—after he once supported the Mexico City Policy in 1984 while a senator—is “tragic,” Smith said.


“I’ve been in the pro-life movement for almost half a century, 48 years. This is tragic that a man who purported to be so pro-life—even during the campaign and then gave it up under pressure—will now become the most aggressive promoter of abortion on the face of the earth.”


“It was a core conviction, and you shredded your core conviction for political expediency. That, to me, is tragic.”


No Picture
News Briefs

Senators speak out for the unborn on the day before the March for Life

January 28, 2021 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., Jan 28, 2021 / 03:45 pm (CNA).- The day before the March for Life, several senators emphasized protecting the human dignity of the unborn.


In remarks on the Senate floor on Thursday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said that “being pro-life isn’t just the right to be born; it also means the right to live and to thrive,” arguing that policies like an expanded Child Tax Credit would help build a culture of life.


Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), the founder and chairman of the Senate Pro-life Caucus, spoke in support of the 48th annual March for Life on Friday. 


“I believe every human being is created with God-given dignity and potential,” Daines said. “No court, no legislature, no law, can take that away.”


Senators also spoke out against President Joe Biden’s order allowing for funding of pro-abortion groups overseas. Biden repealed the Mexico City Policy, which prohibits taxpayer funding of foreign NGOs that perform or promote abortion.


The policy, originally enacted by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, has been in place during each Republican administration since, and repealed by each Democratic administration since. Critics of the policy sometimes refer to it as the “global gag rule.”


Rubio criticized Biden for prioritizing the repeal of the policy “[b]efore we even before we passed a bill to deal with the pandemic, or bring back good jobs back to the United States.”


Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), author of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, said in a statement that “These pro-abortion executive orders from President Biden shock the conscience.”


“Our government shouldn’t be funding abortions at home, let alone overseas,” Sasse said. “Unity is important at times like these, but waging a culture war is only going to deepen divides and hurt innocent victims.”


Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) also defended the Mexico City Policy in a statement, saying that its elimination “means our tax dollars will now fund groups that perform and lobby for abortion in foreign countries.” 


“[Biden] claims his foreign policy is about ‘championing America’s values and human rights,’ but there is nothing more hostile to America’s values and human rights than killing innocent children,” Cotton said. 


Daines also praised lawmakers for re-introducing a discrimination abortion ban, legislation that would ban abortion based on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. 


“It is our duty to protect every innocent life, no matter how small, no matter how many chromosomes they may have,” Daines said. 


Meanwhile, others praised Biden’s move to repeal the Mexico City Policy. 


Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) said Biden’s repeal was “a win for reproductive freedom.”


<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>This is a win for reproductive freedom – glad to see these promising first steps from <a href=””>@POTUS</a>. <a href=””></a></p>&mdash; Sen. Maggie Hassan (@SenatorHassan) <a href=””>January 28, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src=”” charset=”utf-8″></script>


Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) also praised Biden’s move. 


<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>I am thrilled President Biden is rolling back the <a href=”;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#GlobalGagRule</a>. We've got to stop this vicious cycle where access to life-saving services is repeatedly removed and reinstated. It's time to pass the Global HER Act to PERMANENTLY repeal the global gag rule. <a href=””></a></p>&mdash; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (@gillibrandny) <a href=””>January 28, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src=”” charset=”utf-8″></script>


<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>A great step for reproductive rights—President Biden will put an end to the global gag rule, which has jeopardized women’s access to health care around the world.<br><br>It’s time to roll back this cruel Trump-era policy. <a href=””></a></p>&mdash; Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) <a href=””>January 28, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src=”” charset=”utf-8″></script>




No Picture
News Briefs

White House: Biden will reverse Mexico City Policy

January 28, 2021 CNA Daily News 1

Washington D.C., Jan 28, 2021 / 06:43 am (CNA).- President Joe Biden announced Thursday morning that he will be reversing the Mexico City Policy.


The policy prohibits U.S. funding of foreign NGOs that perform or promote abortions as a method of family planning. The White House announced that Biden would be issuing a Presidential Memorandum later on Thursday that “immediately rescinds the global gag rule, also referred to as the Mexico City Policy.”


The policy, first instituted by President Reagan in 1984, is traditionally rescinded or reinstated by new presidents upon entering office. Republican presidents have enacted the policy, while Democratic presidents have all rescinded it.


In 2017, the Trump administration reinstated it and subsequently expanded upon it. While the policy traditionally applied to a limited amount of international family planning funding—ensuring it did not go to groups promoting abortion as a method of family planning—the administration expanded it to include billions of dollars in global health assistance.


Rep.Chris Smith (R-NJ) stated on Wednesday evening that the Trump administration’s expanded policy—Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance—was critical to ensuring U.S. taxpayers were not complicit in promoting abortions abroad, especially in countries with pro-life laws.


“Many countries throughout the world have been besieged by aggressive and well-funded campaigns to overturn their pro-life laws and policies,” Smith said. “The Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy was designed to mitigate U.S. taxpayer complicity in global abortion.”


Smith pointed to a new Marist poll showing that more than three-quarters of Americans oppose their tax dollars funding abortions in foreign countries.


“Americans overwhelmingly oppose using U.S. foreign aid to subsidize abortion,” he stated.


In addition, Biden will direct the Department of Health and Human Services to review and consider rescinding another pro-life policy, the Trump administration’s Protect Life Rule.


That policy required recipients of Title X family planning funds to not refer for abortions, nor be co-located with abortion clinics. As a result of the rule, Planned Parenthood withdrew from the Title X program in 2019 and forfeited around $60 million per year in grants.


The White House on Thursday said the memorandum to be signed by Biden “reflects the policy of the Biden-Harris Administration to support women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights in the United States, as well as globally.”


Last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci—White House chief medical advisor on COVID-19—promised board members of the World Health Organization that the administration would rescind the Mexico City Policy and uphold


“And it will be our policy to support women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and  reproductive rights in the United States, as well as globally,” Fauci said. The term “sexual and reproductive health and rights” is commonly used in international diplomacy to refer to a number of procedures and issues including abortion and contraception.