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Defeat of State Department global women’s office urged

WASHINGTON (BP)–Leading pro-life and pro-family organizations are calling on the House of Representatives to defeat legislation they say would empower the State Department to promote abortion and homosexuality in other countries.

The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) urged representatives in a June 5 letter to vote against a State Department authorization bill that would create an Office for Global Women’s Issues. Pro-life advocates fear the office would seek to liberalize the legal restrictions on abortion in foreign countries.

On June 8, the Family Research Council (FRC) called for opposition to the bill based not only on its impact on abortion overseas but on what the organization says will be an effort to undermine foreign laws against homosexual and transsexual behavior. The measure would make a priority of a State Department attempt to pressure other countries to rescind laws restricting homosexual and transsexual actions, according to FRC. The bill also would require Foreign Service officers to receive sensitivity training on “sexual orientation and gender identity,” FRC said.

The measure, H.R. 2410, is expected to be voted on by the full House as early as June 10.

Unless it is amended, the legislation “will further empower the Obama Administration to pursue its agenda of undermining the pro-life laws of sovereign nations,” NRLC legislative director Douglas Johnson said in the letter to House members. “To the extent that the Administration succeeds in such efforts, it will greatly increase the number of abortions.”

Rep. Chris Smith, R.-N.J., sought May 20 to amend the bill to block the office from efforts to repeal anti-abortion laws overseas. The effort in the House Foreign Affairs Committee went down to defeat, with all Democrats on the panel voting against Smith’s proposal and all Republican members voting for it.

Smith plans to offer a similar amendment to the bill with the Rules Committee, Johnson said. If the amendment is approved by the House, NRLC will pull its opposition, he said.

At an April 22 hearing, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Smith and other members of the Foreign Affairs Committee the Obama administration regards abortion as “reproductive health” care and hopes to extend to women throughout the world the right to the procedure.

“We happen to think that family planning is an important part of women’s health and reproductive health includes access to abortion — that I believe should be safe, legal and rare,” Clinton said. “[W]e are now an administration that will protect the rights of women, including their rights to reproductive health care.”

Since Obama’s inauguration in January, he has initiated the reversal of pro-life foreign policies in effect during the Bush administration. He repealed the Mexico City Policy, which barred federal funds from organizations that promote or perform abortions overseas. Obama also restored money through the State Department to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which had its congressional funding withdrawn by the Bush administration for seven years for its support of China’s coercive population control program.
Compiled by Baptist Press Washington bureau chief Tom Strode.

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