It is an annual rite of the Washington budget process for pro-life lawmakers to seek spending-bill amendments that will restrict federal funding of overseas abortion and family-planning programs. In this way, they have limited Clinton administration funding expeditions for the UN Family Planning Agency and other groups that support abortions overseas.
This year's consciousness-raising presented some lawmakers with a Hobson's choice: Voting in favor of an amendment offered by Rep. Chris Smith
(R-N.J.) to limit abortion spending would scotch a $2.4 billion foreign-affairs bill because President Clinton promised to veto the UNFPA restrictions. And bill passage is a must, given the pressure on both Republicans and Democrats to improve embassy security worldwide. The bill contained $1.4 billion to beef up embassy security. Attacks against embassies in Kenya and Tanzania a year ago proved that U.S. installations are vulnerable. The embassy in Kenya is one of a dozen that U.S. officials had named as lacking a proper protective cordon. Since the blasts, several embassies in Africa, and the U.S. post in Pakistan, have been closed intermittently due to bomb threats.
The Senate approved a more modest approach, authorizing only $300 million next year to improve embassy security. The House went with its $1.4 billion package July 21. But House lawmakers did not "choose life" for everyone: They defeated the Smith amendment, 221-198, clearing the way for $25 million to UNFPA and its population-control activities.