Cardinal Urges House to Keep Mexico City Policy

Rule Bars Certain Funding for Abortions

WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 20, 2007 ( Cardinal Justin Rigali has urged the U.S. House of Representatives to maintain the so-called Mexico City policy, which prevents family planning assistance to go toward abortion.

A House committee approved the State/Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, one section of which rescinds the policy. The same bill includes a provision to cut AIDS prevention funding that goes toward abstinence education.

Cardinal Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia and chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities, urged the House to support an amendment to the bill and preserve the Mexico City policy, which has been law since 1984, with the exception of an eight-year gap during the Clinton presidency.

The Mexico City policy was first announced in that city at the 1984 U.N. International Conference on Population.

Member nations urged governments to take appropriate steps to prevent abortions, saying that it should never be considered a method of family planning. And the United States said it would no longer fund nongovernmental organizations violating this international consensus.

Cardinal Rigali noted in his letter to the House on Monday that the policy was supported not only by the United States, the Holy See, and many developed nations such as France, Italy and Germany, but also by “the great majority of developing nations, many of whom resent Western efforts to promote abortion to them as a badge of ‘progress.'”

Not an imposition

“This policy was never an imposition by the United States on reluctant developing nations, for it was enthusiastically supported by those nations,” Cardinal Rigali affirmed.

The 72-year-old prelate continued: “Respect for innocent human life, a due regard for the culture and the rights of vulnerable developing nations, and even the practical concerns of those committed to effective family planning programs all argue for the same conclusion.

“Therefore I urge you to support the Stupak/Smith amendment, so the Mexico City Policy can remain in effect.”

John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, also defended the policy in a letter to the House of Representatives.

Haas wrote: “As you know, the Mexico City Policy is an administration policy that attempts to protect impoverished people from policies of overseas nongovernmental organizations which offer or promote abortion as a method of family planning.

“There is no stronger message to impoverished people concerning their dignity and worth than to promote polices that respect the life and wellbeing of their next generation. Aid that destroys the lives of the next generation destroys hope.”

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