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Vote backs US family planning

25th June 2007

The US House of Representatives has voted to allow family planning aid to overseas groups which also practise abortion, in spite of the fact that the measure is likely to be vetoed by President George W Bush.

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The House voted 223-201 to lift the prohibition in place since 2001. The vote came in connection with a foreign aid bill, which also called for more economic aid for Iraq, and pro-democracy programmes in Cuba.

Anti-abortion lawmakers said the move was a step towards loosening strict controls against using US funds for abortions overseas. But New York Democratic Party Representative Nita Lowey, who wrote the amendment, said funding for contraception would prevent 52 million unwanted pregnancies and 29 million abortions a year.

Republicans said donated condoms and other contraceptives would free up funds for groups operating abroad to encourage or perform abortions.

The White House has already said that Bush would veto any legislation loosening existing controls.

The ban, introduced in 1984, prohibits US contraceptive aid being sent to foreign family planning clinics and organisations which practice abortions.

Lowey said that although the move would lift the ban, the prohibition on direct funding of abortions would stay in place.

She said the bill would help reduce unintended and high-risk pregnancies and abortions, saving the lives of mothers worldwide.

The US$34.2 billion foreign aid bill will also fund efforts to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS globally during the financial year beginning 1 October 2007.

 

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