WASHINGTON—Voting 224-189 along party lines, the House of Representatives today approved H.R. 7608, the State, Foreign Operations, Agriculture, Rural Development, Interior, Environment, Military Construction, and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act.
National Right to Life issued a letter sent to members on July 22nd, urging representatives to vote against the legislation. H.R. 7608 effectively overturns the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (PLGHA) policy, weakens the Kemp-Kasten Amendment, and increases funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). National Right to Life (NRLC) will be adding the vote on the bill to its scorecard for the 116th Congress.
“It is imperative that pro-life policies such as the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Program and the Kemp-Kasten Amendment are protected,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “United States taxpayer money should not become a weapon in the arsenal of pro-abortion groups as they seek to destroy the sovereignty of nations opposed to abortion on demand.”
The current pro-life PLGHA program is a vital pro-life policy originally adopted by President Ronald Reagan and announced at a 1984 population conference in Mexico City. The policy was reinstated by President George W. Bush in 2001 and restored and expanded under President Donald Trump in 2017. Under the PLGHA program, in order to be eligible for U.S. population assistance, a private organization must sign a contract promising not to perform abortions (except to save the mother’s life or in cases of rape or incest), not to lobby to change the abortion laws of host countries, or otherwise “actively promote abortion as a method of family planning.”
“Abortion groups and their allies are willing to trample the laws of sovereign nations and place women and their children in harm’s way— all in an effort to create a global ‘right’ to abortion,” said Tobias.
The most important characteristic of the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy is that it establishes an eligibility criterion for U.S. funding: If a group is unwilling to agree to avoid promotion of abortion, that group will not receive any type of U.S. support. In short, the PLGHA policy is not about how an organization keeps its books. Rather, it is about the type of groups the United States is going to support. If a specific organization declines to accept the policy, then the same funds are channeled to other organizations that agree to the terms of the contract. There is, therefore, no overall reduction in funding for family planning programs resulting from the policy.
Additionally, the legislation weakens the Kemp-Kasten Amendment while also providing increased funding to the UNFPA. The Kemp-Kasten Amendment was originally enacted in 1985 in response to the UNFPA’s extensive involvement in China’s coercive population control program. The amendment prohibits giving U.S. “population assistance” funds to “any organization or program which, as determined by the President of the United States, supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.” In 2017, the Trump Administration determined that the UNFPA remains in violation of the Kemp-Kasten anti-coercion law and withheld funding. The Appropriations bill would increase funding, while at the same time weaken the ability of the administration to withhold funds.