By a narrow margin of 223-201 the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to overturn a ban on contraceptive aid to overseas groups that offer abortions. The vote was designed to revive debate on a policy that was first instituted by Ronald Reagan in 1984 that denied U.S. aid to organizations that perform or promote abortion as a method of family planning. This ban was removed by Bill Clinton when he came into office, and restored by George W. Bush in 2001. Democrats said that reversing this policy would help address the shortage of contraceptives, especially in poor rural areas. By providing more birth control Democrats say that abortions could be reduced because this will cut down on the number of unintended pregnancies.

Rep. Nita Lowrey (D-NY), who wrote the bill, said that it would, “reduce unintended and high-risk pregnancies and abortions … and save the lives of mothers. It is simply not enough to say you support family planning, so long as the current restrictions remain in law.” Republicans said that approving this measure would free up resources so that more abortions could be performed. “The policy exists to draw a bright line between U.S. family planning policy and abortion,” said Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) “However, it appears that there are some out there who wish to blur this line, (which) is what leads to coercive abortions and forced sterilizations.” Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) proposed an alternative measure that would have strengthened the existing policy, but it failed to pass. “If we provide either cash or in-kind contributions or anything of value to pro-abortion organizations in other countries, we empower, enrich and enable them to expand abortion,” Smith said.

The White House has already promised a swift veto of any legislation that, “that weakens current federal policies and laws on abortion.” This measure was attached to the larger 2008 State Department operations and foreign aid budget. I am almost certain that this measure won’t pass the Senate, and if by some fluke it did get to President Bush, he would veto it in half a second. Here is my problem with the Republican position on this. I don’t think the United States government should be enforcing the moral values of one group of its citizens on to the developing world.

Isn’t preventing the spread of AIDS through the use of contraceptives more important than which group hands out the condoms? Why does it matter? I don’t think the United States government should be involved in the domestic debate on abortion. Why not leave the procedure legal and let human beings make up their own minds? If someone doesn’t like the government telling them what to do with a gun or their property, why is it OK for the government to tell someone what to do with their own body? The abortion debate is nothing but a distraction issue for the Republicans. Fourteen more troops died in Iraq today, yet House Republicans are worried that an organization that also provides abortions will give an African woman some condoms? That doesn’t make sense to me and it illustrates how off base their priorities are.

The quotes came from this AP article

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at

Jason can also be heard every Sunday at 6:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at  blog radio 

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