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Gag Reflex

Here's a terrific piece describing how that the Bush administration's "global gag rule" has "contributed to shockingly high death and disability rates in developing countries." The rule, of course, mandates that no U.S. aid go to any foreign NGO that receives outside money to perform, recommend, or refer women to abortions. So family-planning groups that are working to reduce unwanted pregnancies and fight AIDS in the Third World lose much-needed funding, and developing countries suffer a great deal. People die. It's a disaster, but the religious right's happy. (Bush even made a point of reinstating the rule, originally decreed by Ronald Reagan, on his first day in office.)

Anyway, this has all been reported before. But I'm curious as to whether the Democratic-controlled Congress has any plans to try and reverse this policy. In 2005, Barbara Boxer put forward an amendment to roll back the gag rule. It passed, but Bush threatened to veto the larger bill, and the amendment was stripped out in conference by the GOP leadership. Now Nancy Pelosi has, in the past, supported similar provisions, but I haven't seen anything indicating that she wants to go to the mat over this in the upcoming Congress--there aren't any recent statements on her site. I assumed this would be a no-brainer item on the Dem agenda, but maybe it's more radioactive than I thought.

--Bradford Plumer