ACCELERATING THE INCREASE IN THE REFUNDABILITY OF THE CHILD TAX CREDITMOTION TO PROCEED
Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I rise today to support Senator Boxer's amendment to the State Department authorization bill to eliminate the so-called global gag rule to lift the restrictions for U.S. assistance to international family planning providers included in this legislation.
There have been few issues in recent years that have been more debated. I have come to the floor on several occasions in years past to express my deep concern for the global gag rule. Year after year, we have come to the floor to try to overturn the rule.
Under the leadership of both Democratic and Republican Presidents, and under Congresses controlled by Democrats and Republicans alike, the United States has established a long and distinguished record of world leadership in the area of international family planning and reproductive health issues.
But the global gag rule places very limiting restrictions on U.S. assistance to international family planning organizations. Overseas family planning providers would be barred from using their own money to even provide information to patients about the availability of a legal abortion if these providers receive any funding or even access to contraceptives from the U.S. Government.
International family planning providers are being faced with a very difficult choice; either give up desperately needed U.S. funding or edit the information about reproductive health that providers share with the women they are trying to help.
Either choice will hurt some of the poorest women in the world.
Family planning providers don't just lose funds under the global gag rule. They also lose donated contraceptives. The United States is the most important donor of contraceptives to the developing world, providing about 37 percent of all donations at a value of $45 to $55 million annually.
I was disappointed that one of President Bush's first major policy actions, on his first business day in office, January 22, 2001, was to reinstate the global gag rule.
I think it is important to point out that Senator Boxer's amendment does not change any laws about abortion. In fact, this amendment only allows for funding to organizations that provide services that are legal in their own country and also legal in the United States.
Beginning with the reinstatement of the gag policy in January 2001, several organizations working in the developing world that have lost access to much needed funding or contraceptives, including the International Planned Parenthood Federation, IPPF. IPPF is made up of more than 150 agencies working in 180 countries and is the largest provider of reproductive health services in the world.
Between 2001 and 2003, this organization has lost more than $8 million in U.S. Government fundsmostly for contraceptive supplies.
Some country-specific examples to demonstrate the impact of the global gag rue include: Ethiopia where the Family Planning Association lost $56,000 in contraceptive supplies; Zambia were the Planned Parenthood Association lost $137,092 in contraceptive supplies; Cote d'Ivoire where the Family Planning Association lost $186,000 in contraceptive supplies which eliminated contraceptive services from nearly 50 percent of their 92 distribution points; Congo where the Family Planning Association lost $17,000 in U.S. assistance and, as a result, they had to eliminate programs that served 15,739 clients; and Kenya where the Family Planning Association had received an average of $580,000 per year to fund its clinics. Three urban clinics serving 56,000 poor and underserved clients closed.
The amount of funding lost may not sound like much to you. But in the developing world, every dollar, literally, counts.
And every woman deprived of access to education or contraceptive supplies risk an unwanted pregnancy.
Access to contraceptives is not only about family planning. It is about reproductive health. And it is also about protecting people from HIV/AIDS.
Much of the developing world is struggling with HIV/AIDS. The loss of U.S. funds has reduced the capacity of many family planning providers to also address the HIV/AIDS crisis.
In Ghana, for example, 697,000 Planned Parenthood Association clients will lose access to not only family planning services but also to voluntary testing and counseling for HIV/AIDS as well as AIDS prevention education programs.
With the world population now at more than 6 billion, and estimates of this figure growing to 12 billion by 2050, we must give couples and women the resources necessary to plan the number and spacing of their children.
The vast majority of this population growth will occur in the developing world, in countries that don't have the resources necessary or the infrastructure to provide for basic health care.
Limited access to family planning services results in high rates of unintended and high-risk pregnancy and maternal deaths.
Every minute around the world, 190 women face an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy. About 110 women experience pregnancy-related complications and 1 woman dies. This can be avoided.
I would ask the women of America, as they consider their own reproductive rights, to consider the aim and intent of a policy in which the reproductive rights of American women are approached one way and those of women in the developing world another.
Perhaps worst of all about the global gag rule is that it is a cynical ploy by those who would challenge domestic reproductive rights but are too fearful of the political repercussions. So, instead, they practice the divisive politics of reproductive rights on the poor, sacrificing the lives of women and children overseas, where they think we are not paying attention or do not really care.
I truly believe that the only way to help women in the developing word better their own lives and the lives of their families is to ensure that they have access to the educational and medical resources necessary to make informed decisions.
I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this amendment.