Support for the Hyde/Smith Motion

Letter to Congress on the Foreign Relations Authorization Act (H.R. 1646)

May 7, 2001

Dear Member of Congress:

The Foreign Relations Authorization Act for fiscal years 2002 and 2003 (H.R. 1646) will soon come to the House floor. I urge you to support Representative Henry Hyde and Chris Smith's motion to strike the Lee amendment from this bill.

The effect of the Hyde/Smith motion will be to retain the "Mexico City" policy reinstated by President Bush. The Lee amendment reverses the policy, by allowing non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to receive U.S. funds so long as any harmful "medical" practices they promote cannot be shown to violate the host country's law or U.S. federal law.

The Mexico City policy merely requires that international family planning organizations which elect to receive U.S. subsidies do not "perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning" (White House Memorandum for the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, March 28, 2001). Contrary to what some opponents have claimed, the policy targets active promotion of abortion. "[P]assively responding to a question regarding where a safe legal abortion may be obtained is not considered active promotion." (Id.)

Moreover, some opponents have claimed it is necessary to reverse the Mexico City Policy to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS internationally. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Mexico City policy has no effect on family planning spending generally, let alone on the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS.

Our foreign aid programs should not subsidize organizations that perform and promote abortions in developing nations under the guise of "family planning." Poor women in developing nations need adequate education, food, housing, and medicine for themselves and their children, so they can lead lives of full human dignity. The Mexico City policy prevents the United States from exporting and encouraging a culture of death as a supposed answer to these needs. I urge you to reject the Lee amendment. Instead, our government should respond directly to the real needs of poor women through a comprehensive poverty alleviation program and greatly increased development assistance.

Sincerely yours,

Rev. Msgr. William P. Fay, Ph.D.
General Secretary