In recent years abortion advocates have watched dismayed as hundreds of millions of government dollars have flowed into the fight against HIV-AIDS because they have felt the money has been taken in part from them. Abortion advocates are taking steps in Washington DC this week to right this perceived wrong by connecting HIV-AIDS money to the spread of abortion.
The US Congress began consideration this week to reauthorize the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a $50 billion pot of money. The draft bill, sponsored by Tom Lantos (D-CA) guts funding for abstinence programs and shifts the focus of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to family planning which will open up the proposed $50 billion program to abortion groups now barred due to the U.S. Mexico City policy. International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) has launched a campaign to block all amendments and any proposals to reinstate funding for abstinence programs in the bill.
A document circulating by IPPF told supporters, "Thanks to advocacy efforts over the last few years, the draft prepared by Chairman Lantos' office does not contain an earmark for abstinence-until-marriage programs, includes important funding increases, and emphasizes the integration of HIV and AIDS prevention programs with family planning programs." The document asks supporters to "oppose harmful amendments, especially those that would reinstate a funding earmark for abstinence-until-marriage programs."
The Lantos bill encourages "linkages" and "integration" with family planning programs. In recent months, abortion proponents have advocated strategies to get more funding for abortion through family planning programs by linking it to HIV/AIDS. This plan was unveiled by top UN officials at the Women Deliver conference held in London last October. Nafis Sadik, special advisor to the UN Secretary General for HIV/AIDS, and Thoraya Obaid, executive director of the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), amongst others, argued that the abortion rights agenda can advance by linking HIV/AIDS to reproductive health under UNFPA. The US stopped funding UNFPA in 2002 after receiving evidence that the UN agency was complicit in China's brutal one child policy. UNFPA supporters hope the US will reinstate funding and allow access to PEPFAR funds when the Bush administration leaves office in 2009.
While PEPFAR funds could not be directly used for abortions, the draft bill would fund aid organizations which do advocate abortions as part of their family planning programs. Critics are also concerned about the draft bill's many references to "reproductive health services," language which is defined as including "obstetric services" and which could be misused to include abortion. Pro-life advocates are urging decision-makers to ensure that the resources are spent on evidence-based programs with proven track records.
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) told the Friday Fax, "By making billions of U.S. taxpayer funds available to pro-abortion organizations the bill unnecessarily puts countless children directly in harms way. No child should suffer the cruelty of abortion because U.S. legislation integrated and enhanced pro-abortion organizations role in PEPFAR."
The Committee on Foreign Affairs in the U.S. House of Representatives will hold a meeting of the full committee next Thursday, February 14th to debate the draft bill.