CV NEWS FEED // Senate staffers have told CatholicVote that Catholic Relief Services recently attempted to mislead senators by falsely telling them African bishops were not opposed to the Biden administration’s push to use an AIDS relief program to promote abortions.
The House is moving quickly towards a reauthorization of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). As it currently stands, the measure would allow organizations to use grants from the program to promote abortions and gender ideology abroad.
Six African bishops joined a number of other African leaders in signing a group letter protesting America’s use of AIDS relief funds to promote abortion in their countries. The letter was organized by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative American advocacy institution.
“We now know that Catholic Relief Services (CRS) told some Senate offices that the bishops denied signing such a letter,” said CatholicVote President Brian Burch. CRS’s “story shifted” quickly, however. Next, CRS claimed the African bishops had signed the protest letter, but didn’t know what they were signing.
“Heritage reached out to the bishops, who said they knew exactly what they were signing,” Burch said. “A seventh African bishop sent a statement to point out that he wasn’t on the original letter and wanted to be added.”
One of President Biden’s first actions in office was to sign a memorandum reinstituting foreign aid to organizations that promote abortion abroad, including the United Nations Population fund, which is complicit in China’s coercive abortion practices.
Planned Parenthood in 2021 celebrated Biden’s nomination of Dr. John Nkengasong as the United States Global AIDS Coordinator. A press release from the abortion giant included a statement by McGill Johnson: “We look forward to working together to expand access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and services, including HIV prevention and treatment…”
Last week a group of faith-based organizations sent a letter to Congress calling for the reauthorization of PEPFAR without any changes. The “44 undersigned national and international faith-based organizations” called on Congress “to reauthorize PEPFAR before the end of FY2023, to ensure the continuation of its life-saving programs.”
However, Rep, Chris Smith, R-NJ, is alerting fellow lawmakers to the problems with PEPFAR. As POLITICO reported Tuesday:
“The president fired the first shot,” Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) told POLITICO, accusing Biden of deliberately adding abortion to the program’s purview.
Smith previously supported PEPFAR and even wrote the last bill reauthorizing it in 2018. But the longtime abortion opponent said he won’t write another update without barring funding of groups that support abortion rights. That’s a dealbreaker for Democrats, who note that U.S. law already bars foreign aid from funding abortion services.
Historically, the populations of many African countries have opposed Western progressive ideology by wide margins. Polling shows large majorities oppose abortion, as well as sex and gender ideology.
“Except for South Africa, the African countries are pro-life and they don’t want money coming in in huge amounts buying all kinds of personnel and then become a lobby force for abortion,” Smith told POLITICO.
Smith’s office analyzed data on the grantees under PEPFAR during Fiscal Year 21-22 and found that “24% of the international partners (26 out of 107) were explicitly pro-abortion.” Further: “Between FY21-FY22, these 26 pro-abortion groups expended $1.34 billion in PEPFAR funding.”
POLITICO reported that Democrats and outside pro-abortion groups may increase pressure on Smith to back down and allow PEPFAR to move forward as it is. “Still, Smith wields influence over PEPFAR reauthorization as chair of the relevant House Foreign Affairs subcommittee, and no other GOP lawmakers on that committee have publicly broken with his position.”