CV NEWS FEED // CatholicVote and allied groups sent a letter to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy directing Congress to remove overseas abortion funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
“PEPFAR is a crucial, life-saving program in its own right, but the excellence of its moral purposes should call each Member of Congress to more strongly protect it from political corruption, not look the other way,” the 12 pro-life groups wrote in the letter.
“Congress needs to reassess the laudatory purposes of PEPFAR and the importance of respecting the conscientious beliefs of our African partners,” the coalition added. “The politicization of PEPFAR jeopardizes America’s promise to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic by 2030.”
The letter continued:
We call on Congress to protect this program and make sure funding goes to ending HIV/AIDS, not promoting abortion.
We are opposed to any multi-year reauthorization of PEPFAR that does not incorporate these protections for life. We are committed to preserving the authorities that are set to expire this year, especially the requirement that 10% of funds be expended for programs targeting orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS. We support the appropriations approach as included in the Fiscal Year 2024 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) Appropriations bill currently being considered in the House.
CatholicVote was the only Catholic group that signed the letter. The others were Americans United for Life (AUL), Advancing American Freedom (AAF), Family Policy Alliance (FPA), Family Research Council (FRC), Heritage Action for America (Heritage Action), The Heritage Foundation, March for Life, March for Life Action, National Right to Life (NRLC), Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America (formerly known as the Susan B. Anthony List), and Students for Life of America (SFLA/SFL).
The anti-AIDS program began under the George W. Bush administration in 2003. The Kaiser Family Foundation described it as “the largest commitment by any nation to address a single disease in the world,” noting that “its funding has totaled more than $110 billion.”
“PEPFAR is due to be authorized this year,” explained The Heritage Foundation’s Eric Teetsel in a video posted to X (formerly known as Twitter). The current version of the program is due to expire on the first day of next month.
“But there’s a problem,” Teetsel continued. “The Biden Administration wants to hijack the program to serve its abortion agenda.”
“In his first month in office, President Biden revoked a rule that prohibits taxpayer money from being sent overseas to groups that promote or perform abortion,” Teetsel said. “It’s called the Mexico City Policy.”
After the Dobbs decision, President Biden directs his entire administration to advance abortion. Then, just a year ago, the State Department released a document: Reimagining PEPFAR’s Strategic Direction. This document states where possible, PEPFAR will integrate HIV programming into “sexual reproductive health, rights and services.” That’s government speak for abortion.
That is why pro-life members of Congress, led by Representative Chris Smith [R-NJ], are demanding that sufficient pro-life protections be added back. That straightforward ask has drawn the ire of the [non-governmental organizations (NGOs)] who depend on the PEPFAR money, who are all telling us not to believe our lying eyes about what President Biden is up to.
The Washington Stand’s Joshua Arnold has extensively covered the Biden administration use of PEPFAR to pay for abortions across the globe.
“PEPFAR is the nation’s foremost program for combatting HIV/AIDS in the developing world and directs billions of dollars annually to poor communities in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean,” Arnold wrote on September 8:
In fact, PEPFAR has funneled billions of dollars to abortion groups over its 20-year history. The non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who have raked in the most PEPFAR cash are Family Health International (FHI) 360 ($2.4 billion), Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) ($1.5 billion), and Population Services International (PSI) ($768 million, according to a database of PEPFAR funding.
Together, the three groups account for more than a quarter of all PEPFAR grants to NGOs. In 2021, EGPAF explicitly tied abortion to their anti-AIDS work, stating, “The repeal of the Mexico City policy is essential to women’s health equity globally and to the fight to #endAIDS.”
“But PEPFAR’s controversial allocations are not confined to NGOs, nor to the abortion issue,” Arnold added. “The South Africa-based health system Anova Health Institute has received $238 million from PEPFAR.”
A few days later, Arnold reported that in addition to using taxpayer money to pay for international abortions, “PEPFAR funds comprehensive sexuality education through the ‘DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe)’ Initiative.”
“PEPFAR is the largest foreign relief program since the Marshall Plan following World War II,” said CatholicVote Director of Governmental Affairs Tom McClusky. “It is shameful that the Biden administration wants to turn a program that has saved hundreds of thousands into an abortion-promoting taxpayer-funded leviathan.”