THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE, FOREIGN OPERATIONS AND RELATED PROGRAMS APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008--Continued -- (House of Representatives - June 21, 2007)
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Mr. LANGEVIN. I thank the gentlelady for yielding.
Mr. Chairman, I am grateful to have this opportunity to rise in support of the Lowey amendment.
I share Chairwoman Lowey's concerns about the lack of access to contraceptives, the lifesaving tool for disease prevention in the developing word.
The World Health Organization estimates that 80 million women face unwanted pregnancies each year. More than 150 million couples have no access to family planning, and more than 75,000 women die each year due to complications related to unsafe abortion. These staggering statistics reflect the dire situation in countries such as Ghana, Ethiopia, Romania and many others as nations struggle to provide health care and basic services to their citizens.
It is a tragedy that 24.5 million people are living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 12 million children have been orphaned by AIDS. I know that I speak for the vast majority of Americans when I say that we have a responsibility to respond to this crisis.
Like so many of my colleagues, I am opposed to abortion. And this position compels me to work to promote access to contraception and other methods of pregnancy prevention. I also feel that being pro-life means working to protect life at all stages, and to alleviate suffering wherever I am able to do so is an important priority. Rarely has the world known such intense suffering as that faced by sub-Saharan Africa today.
Mr. Chairman, we must do everything in our power to ensure that the money we spend on international family planning, $441 million in this bill, will be used in the most effective way. The Lowey amendment makes sure that we do that.
I want to thank Chairwoman Lowey for her leadership.
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(Mr. LANGEVIN asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. LANGEVIN. Mr. Chairman, I unfortunately must rise in opposition to the Smith-Stupak amendment. I have great respect for the passion displayed by Mr. Smith and Mr. Stupak and I share their opposition to abortion. However, in this instance I must strongly disagree with their decision to prevent the distribution of contraception to some of the most poor and needy people and nations in the world.
Mr. Chairman, we are asked to make an important decision in this year's debate on the Foreign Operations bill. Our commitment to providing international family planning speaks volumes about who we are as a nation. These funds reach some of the most vulnerable populations in the world and can literally mean the difference between life and death.
I know that Americans regardless of their position on abortion are horrified by the statistics on HIV/AIDS in Africa and the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions throughout the developing world. I believe that it is our responsibility, as people committed to the sanctity of life and the basic human dignity of all people, to respond to this crisis. I believe that it is also our responsibility to do so in the most effective manner possible while staying true to our core values. The language that Chairwoman Lowey proposes makes it possible for the United States to provide developing nations access to contraceptive products, products that save lives. The Lowey language ensures that the organizations best equipped to distribute these products to the neediest, poorest parts of the world are able to do so. Finally, it respects the law of the land that prohibits Federal financial assistance to organizations that provide abortions or abortion counseling.
I know that crafting this language was no easy feat and I commend Mrs. Lowey for her dedication to moving forward with a bill that reflects the values of our Nation and respects the strong feelings that Members have on both sides of the abortion debate. I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on the Smith-Stupak amendment and allow this critical, lifesaving assistance to reach those who so desperately need it.
I thank the gentlelady for yielding.
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