Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities, and 17 other pro-life leaders have called on President Donald Trump to block an amendment they say would "enrich global abortion providers," which currently is part of a Senate appropriations measure.
They were referring to an amendment in the Senate’s State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs appropriations bill. Sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, the amendment " has several problematic provisions," the pro-life leaders said in a Nov. 21 letter to Trump, saying it "must be removed" before final passage of the bill.
The amendment "increases a highly controversial earmark for international family planning by $57.55 million above current law, from $575 million to $632.55 million," said the coalition of pro-life leaders. In fiscal year 2018, they noted, the U.S. provided nearly $280 million in foreign aid to groups involved in abortion activities overseas.
"More money for this earmark," they said, "exploits an aspect" of the administration’s Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy, or PLGHA, "that allows this account to serve as a taxpayer-funded supplemental for U.S.-based NGOs that actively promote abortion overseas."
The PLGHA policy, which went into effect May 15, 2017, provides that no U.S. taxpayer money should support foreign organizations that "perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations."
"Global health assistance" includes U.S. funding for international health programs, such as those for HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, malaria, global health security, and voluntary family planning and reproductive health.
Passed in early September, the Shaheen amendment earmarks "not less than" $585 million for international family planning and reproductive health programs, and repeals what it calls the "global gag rule."
Supporters of legal abortion call it a "gag rule" because under current policy health providers receiving U.S. foreign aid are not allowed to give abortion referrals, except in cases of medical emergencies, but they can still counsel their patients on abortion.
The amendment also mandates a U.S. contribution to the U.N. Population Fund of $37.5 million.
Archbishop Naumann and the other pro-life leaders said the Shaheen amendment also "undermines" the U.S. Agency for International Development's New Partnership Initiative "by adding new reporting requirements that are intended to effectively 'name and shame' faith or community-based partners, particularly pro-life and pro-family partners."
According to a USAID online fact sheet, its New Partnership Initiative aims to provide resources and training for "local and underutilized groups, including faith-based, community and civil-society organizations, so they can successfully compete for USAID contracts, agreements and grants."
The amendment provisions result in a "blacklist" that "is designed to drive qualified faith-based providers away from providing foreign assistance," the pro-life leaders said.
"In addition, the amendment condones a flawed regulation from the previous administration that targets pro-life and pro-family organizations," they said.
"Finally, the amendment directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a one-sided evaluation targeting the pro-life policies of your administration," they added.
Besides undermining pro-life actions and policies undertaken by the Trump administration, the pro-life leaders said, "we believe that the Shaheen amendment, creating new policy, expressly violates the bipartisan budget agreement for fiscal years 2020 and 2021, which explicitly states, 'there will be no poison pills, additional new riders ... or other changes in policy or conventions that allow for higher spending levels, or any nonappropriations measures unless agreed to on a bipartisan basis by the four leaders with the approval of the president."
They urged Trump "to communicate with the U.S. Congress" to reject the amendment.
Besides Archbishop Naumann, the signers of the letter included the presidents or other officials of, among other organizations, the National Right to Life Committee, Students for Life, the Family Research Council, the Catholic Medical Association, Live Action, Americans United for Life, Priests for Life and the Susan B. Anthony List.