Thursday, July 20, 2017

Pro-Life Policy in the State, Foreign Operations Appropriations bill

Last night the Appropriations Committee approved the State, Foreign Operations bill. In addition to maintaining longstanding riders such as the Helms amendment, Chairman Rogers’ bill includes the following policies that are consistent with the Trump Administration’s actions.

Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (formerly the Mexico City Policy) requires foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to agree, as a condition of their receipt of global health assistance grant money, not to perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning (Sec. 7056b). Reinstated and modernized by President Trump, the policy now applies to all global health programs. If NGOs choose to divest themselves from abortion, they can continue to be eligible for federal grant money. The choice is up to the NGO – either change business practices or forego federal funding. When the policy was in place under previous Republic administrations, the vast majority of foreign aid recipients chose to change their practices to comply with the policy. US foreign aid should not support the activities of organizations so ideologically wed to abortion that they refuse to comply.

Funding to UNFPA is prohibited because of its involvement in China’s birth limitation policy, which relies on forced and coerced abortion (Sec. 7056a). In April 2017, the Trump Administration announced its determination that UNFPA is ineligible to receive global health funds under the Kemp-Kasten Amendment. The State Department explained that “by implementing a portion of its family planning program in partnership with that government entity [China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC)], UNFPA provides support for NHFPC’s implementation of China’s family planning policies, which includes coercive elements.”

International family planning funding is capped at $461 million. The cap establishes the funding level as a specific amount instead of the Obama Administration’s approach, which set a minimum funding level, effectively allowing unlimited spending in this area. Even when Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance is in place, this funding stream can support domestically-based NGOs that support the global abortion industry.

During the markup Rep. Lowey (D-NY) and Rep. Lee (D-CA) offered two amendments hostile to the pro-life policies from the bill. Both Lowey and Lee amendments were defeated 23-29. In each instance 23 Democrats and 1 Republican (Dent) voted to strip the pro-life policies and 29 Republicans voting to retain. Chairman Rogers defended the bill against each of these amendments.

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