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Senators Vote to Drop Abortion-Aid Link

March 28, 1985|DON SHANNON | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted Wednesday to reverse a Reagan Administration ban on U.S. funding for organizations that include abortion in their overseas population control programs.

In its annual foreign aid bill, the committee approved, 9 to 7, an amendment proposed by Sen. Nancy Landon Kassebaum (R-Kan.) and aimed at reversing an Administration policy adopted last December. The new policy has cut off financing for organizations such as Planned Parenthood International, which operates in dozens of Third World countries where abortion is permitted as a population control method.

The Kassebaum proposal calls for applying to foreign governments the same policies that govern U.S. family planning aid. In the United States, agencies that perform abortions may receive government funds, so long as they do not use them for abortions.

But in another action, the committee voted 13 to 3 to add a new restriction on federal financing of foreign population control programs, prohibiting money for countries that permit, "officially or in practice, infanticide or coerced abortion."

China Was Target

The amendment was submitted on behalf of Sen. Jesse A. Helms (R-N.C.), who was not present. A Helms aide, Tom Ashcraft, said that China is the target of the amendment, but he said it could apply to any other country judged to have adopted China's Draconian policy of limiting families to one child which, in some areas, has resulted in forced abortions.

Jeffrey T. Bergner, a committee staff member, said he believes that Wednesday's revision of the foreign aid bill, if enacted, would restore funding for Planned Parenthood International or any other organization that has no activities in China.

Planned Parenthood International lost $17 million in U.S. government aid when the Reagan Administration applied its new policy Jan. 1, leaving a major gap in the group's anticipated $100-million budget for 1985. The U.S. Agency for International Development, which distributes family planning funds for international use, ruled last Dec. 13 that funds would be cut off for any recipient whose programs in any country included abortion.

'Equitable Treatment'

Kassebaum, offering her amendment, told her colleagues that she wanted "to assure equitable treatment of private voluntary organizations, using the same language in the act for private voluntary organizations as for multilateral organizations and individual governments."

She added, "I don't think U.S. funds should be used for abortion and they are not being used for abortions and they would not be under this change."

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