CV NEWS FEED // In a blow to the Biden administration, the House has voted to reauthorize the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) for one more year, with an amendment preventing the use of its funding to promote abortions overseas.
The Washington Times noted that the razor-thin 216-212 vote “came after heated debate over the Biden administration’s September 2022 plan, ‘Reimaging PEPFAR’s Strategic Direction,’ which called for integrating the program initiated by President George W. Bush with areas such as ‘sexual reproductive health, rights and services.’”
Rep. Chris Smith, R-NJ, criticized the Biden administration for attempting to “hijack” PEPFAR “to empower pro-abortion international non-governmental organizations, deviating from its life-affirming work.”
Smith sponsored PEPFAR’s re-authorization in 2018. The Times reported that “the $6.7 billion AIDS program” is “credited with saving 25 million lives” since it was first instituted under the George W. Bush administration in 2003.
Smith is a Catholic and has an “A” rating from the Catholic Accountability Project. He was named one of CatholicVote’s Heroes of June 2023 for his advocacy in keeping abortion funding out of PEPFAR.
As CatholicVote reported then, “Smith’s office researched extensive grant data and found that 24% of PEPFAR’s international partners were pro-abortion and had expended $1.34 billion in program funding.”
The congressman told POLITICO at the time: “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.”
Earlier this month, CatholicVote and allied groups wrote a letter to Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-CA, demanding that he remove taxpayer funding for international abortions from the relief program prior to its reauthorization.
“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,” CatholicVote and 11 other pro-life groups wrote:
Congress needs to reassess the laudatory purposes of PEPFAR and the importance of respecting the conscientious beliefs of our African partners. The politicization of PEPFAR jeopardizes America’s promise to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic by 2030.
Read more about the letter here.