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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

House Bill Proposes Dramatic Cuts for Reproductive Health

The U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations has approved a foreign assistance bill that proposes dramatic cuts to family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) programs. The legislation will govern funding for fiscal year 2012 (FY2012), which begins on October 1, 2011.

The full draft of the bill, published (PDF, 364KB) on the Appropriations Committee web site, reveals a number of measures that would harm the health and lives of millions of women and children around the world.
Below are a few notable provisions from the bill, compared with those in the final FY2011 Continuing Resolution passed in April. The draft bill:
  • Allots a maximum of $461 million for FP/RH activities in FY2012, compared with a total of $615 million in FY2011.
  • Reinstates the Global Gag Rule, prohibiting U.S. assistance to any foreign entity that “promotes or performs abortions.” The final FY2011 Continuing Resolution did not include this controversial policy.
  • Prohibits any U.S. contributions to UNFPA or any organization that “supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.” The FY2011 budget appropriated $40 million in U.S. contributions to UNFPA, an international development agency dedicated to promoting reproductive health and rights.
In response to the bill, Sec. of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she would urge a veto of any bill that would impose new restrictions on aid to critical partners and countries. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, also issued a July 26 statement on the issue: “I am disappointed that the 2012 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Act ... includes divisive and partisan policy riders that are counterproductive to effective diplomacy and development."

Lowey also recently introduced a bill to prevent the reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule, which would prevent women and children from accessing critical health services such as family planning, obstetric care, HIV testing, and malaria treatment that have nothing to do with abortion.

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