This morning, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice called on Congress to remove “language restricting the participation of family planning organizations” from the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief or PEPFAR, an international health initiative dedicated to combating HIV/AIDS around the world:
The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and our partners in the interfaith community are urging the Senate to hear the voices of people of faith…we want PEPFAR to be reauthorized and we welcome the increased funds — but we want language restricting the participation of family planning organizations to be removed.
Competing House and Senate versions of the bill to expand PEPFAR both seek to boost funding to $50 billion over the next five years. While the House version allows “groups to use PEPFAR funding for HIV testing and education in family planning clinics,” the bill expands the global gag rule, and does not extend PEPFAR funding “for contraception.”
Under the House legislation, family-planning services that accept funding through PEPFAR would be restricted in two ways. First, PEPFAR funding would impose a gag-rule to prohibit family planning initiatives from using their own funds for performing or promoting abortion. Secondly, PEPFAR-funded programs would not be allowed to use PEPFAR funds on family planning services.
Both versions also replace the current earmark requiring 33% of prevention funds to be spent on abstinence only programs with a provision that obliges “the Global AIDS Coordinator [to] report to Congress if less than 50% of funding to prevent sexual transmission of HIV is spent on abstinence and fidelity programs.” Read more