01.28.09

Statement On Martinez Amendment On Mexico City Policy

Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I have listened to the debate on the amendment offered by Senator Martinez to reverse President Obama’s decision to overturn the Mexico City policy. I have been struck by the statements of proponents of the amendment that the President’s action means federal funds will now be used for abortions overseas. That is nothing more than a scare tactic and a flagrant misrepresentation of fact. 

As those who make such statements know well, U.S. law has banned the use of federal funds for abortion overseas for more than 30 years and that is the law today. Most recently, it can be found in title III of the Fiscal Year 2008 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Act, should they choose to refresh their memories. Whether or not the Martinez amendment passes, no U.S. funds are available for abortion, even in countries where, like the U.S., abortion is legal.

The irony of this debate is that the Martinez amendment would prevent funding to private organizations that, thanks to the President’s action, would be eligible to receive U.S. funds for contraceptives which prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortions. Yet they claim that unless we pass the Martinez amendment the number of abortions will increase. It is a counter-intuitive, disingenuous argument that has been consistently proven to be false. The facts are indisputable. Where family planning services are available, the number of abortions declines. 

Another false claim by proponents is that unless we pass this amendment U.S. funds will be used to support coercive family planning policies in China. They know that is not true. The Mexico City policy has nothing to do with coercion, pro or con. Another provision, also in the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Act, provides the President with the authority to prohibit funds to any organization that supports coercion. And the law explicitly prohibits the use of U.S. family planning funds in China. The President’s action reversing the Mexico City policy does not change that.

Mr. President, we all want the number of abortions to decline. But one would hope that even as we disagree on how best to achieve that, those who oppose the President’s decision would stick to the facts and not try to distort or misrepresent U.S. law.   

The Mexico City policy is discriminatory, it would be unconstitutional in our own country, it would deny women in poor countries access to family planning services, and it would increase unwanted pregnancies and abortions. The amendment should be defeated.

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