NRLC advises House to Vote No on spending bill that would weaken pro-life provisions in multiple overseas programs

Dear Member of Congress:

On Friday July 24th, the House is expected to consider H.R. 7608, the State, Foreign Operations, Agriculture, Rural Development, Interior, Environment, Military Construction, and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, herein the minibus.

The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) urges you to oppose the minibus as it 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).

The minibus contains language that would effectively overturn the current pro-life Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance program. This vital pro-life policy was originally adopted by President Reagan and announced at a 1984 population conference in Mexico City. The policy was reinstated by President Bush in 2001 and restored and expanded under President 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.”

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 minibus 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 The Kemp-Kasten Amendment was originally enacted in 1985 in response to the UNFPA’s extensive involvement in China’s coercive population control program.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 minibus would increase funding, while at the same time weaken the ability of the administration to withhold funds.

NRLC will include the roll call on H.R. 7608 in its scorecard of key pro-life votes of the 116th Congress. Thank you for considering NRLC’s views on this legislation.