Friday, July 24, 2020

Life issues in Fiscal Year 2021 Omnibus Approprations

This afternoon the House of Representatives passed H.R. 7608, which contains FY 2021 Appropriations for State, Foreign Operations; Agriculture; Interior; and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, by a vote of 244 to 189.

The bill contains several provisions that attack longstanding pro-life policy or seek to undermine pro-life executive actions.

FY 2021 State, Foreign Operations Appropriations Text

weakens the Kemp-Kasten Amendment. The longstanding Kemp-Kasten Amendment restricts funds from organizations that the President determines support or participate in a coercive abortion program. President Trump has used the amendment to redirect funding away from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) due to the organization’s support of and participation in the management of China’s restrictive birth limitation policy.

undermines the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy (PLGHA). Implemented by President Trump in January 2017, PLGHA requires foreign nongovernmental organizations to agree, as a condition of their receipt of US grant money, not to promote or perform abortion. The bill prohibits funding from being used to implement PLGHA and permanently prevents it from being reinstated.

appropriates $55.5 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). This is $23 million more than the $32.5 million provided by the FY2020 appropriations bill. Note that, for FY20, the State Department’s Kemp-Kasten determination required those funds to be redirected to other maternal and reproductive health activities. UNFPA should not receive US support as long as it continues to support and participate in the Chinese population control program.

appropriates not less than $750 million for family planning/reproductive health programs. This is $175 million more than the $575 million provided in the FY2020 appropriations bill. Even when PLGHA is in place, this account can be a funding stream for domestically-based organizations that also promote and may even perform abortion.

alters the longstanding HIV-Notwithstanding Provision, allowing more funding for contraception.

FY 2021 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Text

• includes text that would make permanent a provision included annually though appropriations bills since the 114th Congress. It provides assisted reproductive technology, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), to a veteran unable to procreate because of a service connected disability. The appropriations provision is drawn from a Department of Defense (DOD) policy that did not allow the DOD to store the embryos after three years. In contrast, HR 7608 (as in past appropriations bills) states there is no limit on the amount of time the embryos can be stored. Some pro-life groups have expressed concerns with this program due to the number of embryos created which are then destroyed or frozen indefinitely.

During floor consideration, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) spoke in defense of the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (PLGHA) policy stripped by the bill. He said, “The Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy mitigates U.S. taxpayer complicity in global abortion. U.S. foreign policy—and the foreign entities we fund with billions of dollars in grant money—should consistently affirm, care for, and tangibly assist women and children—including unborn baby girls and boys.” Congressman Smith’s full remarks are attached.

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) specifically identified the undermining of PLGHA as a poison pill provision. He said, “We could have had a bipartisan bill to provide for the American people. These poison pill provisions virtually guarantee that that will not be the case.”

In January 2019, President Donald Trump issued a letter committing to veto any legislation that would weaken federal pro-life policy. A bipartisan budget agreement between President Trump and House and Senate leadership also committed that appropriations for fiscal years 2020 and 2021 would not have poison pill provisions.

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