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Boxer-Snowe Amendment

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Abortion Rights and the Boxer-Snowe Amendment

February 15, 2001 was the first day the Global Democracy Act of 2001 was to be introduced by Senator's Barbara Boxer, Olympia Snowe and Lincoln Chafee. This legislation would prevent the United States from imposing undemocratic and dangerous restrictions on health providers overseas. Representatives Nita Lowey and Nancy Johnson also would be introducing matching legislation in the house when it returned from recess.

Senator Boxer and Representative Lowey developed the legislation in response to the "global gag rule," imposed by President Bush on January 22, 2001 on the 28th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. The rule reinstated the Reagan-era Mexico City policy, which denied United States funding to any foreign non-governmental organizations that provide abortion services, counseling or referrals, or lobbied to change abortion laws. (, 2001)

It was thought that by imposing the "global gag rule," President Bush interferes with the doctor patient relationship, and the sovereignty of other nations. This rule required foreign health care providers to withhold critical medical information from their patients, as a condition of receiving U.S. funding. This restriction created a culture of fear among those best equipped to address the health needs of women and their families around the world. (, 2001)

In our countries' desperate time of need over seas, this legislation also banned publicly funded abortion care form service women overseas including, victims of rape or incest. This was according even though more then 100 lawmakers supported the amendment. (RCRC, 2004)

It is thought that female troops, especially those deployed to combat zones should have the same access to reproductive health - from contraception to abortion as any other American women and that is why so many have fought to un-gag the international family-planning programs. In 2004 there were over 200 cases of reported sexual assaults from women in both Kuwait and Iraq. Regrettably at least half a dozen have resulted in pregnancies.

"Any victim facing the horror of rape or sexual assault needs every option and support made available to them," Snowe said in a statement. "This bill removes a barrier under current law that prohibits the Department of Defense from providing access to critical reproductive health services for our troops." (Jontz, 2004)

According to, the current law had only allowed federally funded abortion services at military hospitals in the instance of life endangerment. It did not cover rape or incest. Because of this, many organizations have come together in support of the Boxer-Snowe provision and asked lawmakers to include



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