A coalition of pro-life leaders has sent a letter calling on federal lawmakers to oppose an amendment to a foreign funding bill that would give money to organizations that promote abortion overseas.
The letter, dated Oct. 17, was signed by nearly four dozen pro-life leaders, including the associate director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities and the presidents of the March for Life and National Right to Life.
It was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif).
The Trump administration has already updated the Mexico City Policy into the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (PLGHA) rule, which states that foreign non-governmental organizations may not receive federal funding if they perform or promote abortions as a method of family planning.
However, organizations that exist domestically but do work overseas are still permitted to perform and promote abortions.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) successfully included an amendment in a State and Foreign Operations (SFOPs) funding bill before the Senate left for its October recess. This amendment would increase U.S. international family planning assistance, as well as reinstated funding of the UN’s Population Fund (UNFPA), which the U.S. has declined to support for the past three years.
“We are deeply concerned by the increase of funds for international family planning in the Senate SFOPs bill, which would provide even more money” to domestic organizations that promote abortion overseas, said the letter.
The bill includes $29 million allocated to Pathfinder International, which works with governments to build abortion facilities, as well as $6.7 million to Population Council, an organziation that promotes abortion in rural India, among other groups.
“Senator Shaheen’s amendment is clearly designed to undermine the life-saving policies of the Trump administration,” the signatories said.
In January, President Trump wrote a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), promising that he would veto any legislation that weakens existing pro-life law. The Bipartisan Budget Agreement for Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021 specifically states that there may be no policy changes increasing spending levels relative to the FY 2019 without approval from Congressional leaders and the president.
The Shaheen amendment “must be eliminated in any SFOPs bill going forward,” said the letter. “Consistent with the bipartisan budget agreement, we ask that you reject the Shaheen amendment.”
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony list and leader of the coalition of signatories, said the language in the funding bill is a “nonstarter” and should be dropped under the bipartisan budget agreement.
“We trust that President Trump, Senate Majority Leader McConnell and House Minority Leader McCarthy will continue to stand against efforts to weaken the extraordinary progress made by the Trump administration in implementing pro-life policies internationally by rejecting the Shaheen amendment,” she said.