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The Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2008

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE, FOREIGN OPERATIONS AND RELATED PROGRAMS APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008--Continued -- (House of Representatives - June 21, 2007)

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Ms. LEE. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the gentlewoman for yielding and once again for her very valiant efforts to save lives of women and children throughout the world.

Let me first say I rise in strong opposition to the Smith amendment. This bill includes a very narrow provision to allow foreign NGOs to receive only U.S.-provided contraceptives. Chairwoman Lowey has additionally offered the amendment that clarifies the existing language in the bill to make it absolutely clear that this provision only allows for the donation of the contraceptives.

This provision has absolutely nothing to do with funding. The bill does not provide financial assistance to clinics or to NGOs. It simply allows those family planning organizations that have been denied USAID family planning funding under the global gag rule to receive contraceptives from USAID and domestic NGOs.

Again, it has nothing to do with providing assistance for abortions, which are already strictly and clearly prohibited in 10 other provisions in this bill, which, I must say, I am very disappointed with. But the fact is that those provisions are there.

By providing contraceptives, we will actually help to reduce abortions, reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS and save the lives of mothers and infants by reducing the number of high-risk and unintended pregnancies.

The negative impact of the gag rule, which, of course, as I said earlier, and you all know this, this bill leaves the gag rule in place, but the negative impact is well documented. Since it was reinstated in 2001, shipments of United States-donated contraceptives have ceased in 20 developing countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The NGOs most affected are often the ones with the most extensive distribution networks and the largest outreach to young women in rural areas. They often provide the only family planning program in a region and they have suffered severely from the cutoff of contraceptive shipments. The Smith amendment would continue to punish these NGOs for running successful family planning programs and would effectively undermine the goal we all share to reduce abortions and HIV and AIDS around the world.

For the life of me, I don't understand why we are doing this, Mr. Smith. You know and I know that this does not tamper with, unfortunately, the global gag rule or Mexico City language.

So let's be straightforward. Let's be honest. What we are trying to do today is just save the lives of women and children.

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Ms. LEE. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of the McGovern-Lewis amendment.

This important amendment will prohibit funding to the infamous Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) formerly known as the School of the Americas.

We all know the history of this Institute that has long been associated with human rights abuses and many of its students have been tied to death squads and international coups.

Despite assurances to the contrary by supporters of the WHINSEC, the continuing legacy of blood and terror by these graduates calls into question how these candidates are recruited and vetted.

Mr. Chairman, at a time when our occupation of Iraq has greatly damaged our credibility and standing in the world, the last thing we need to be doing is funding an organization like WHINSEC that is drenched in a legacy of secrecy, terror, and violence.

I urge my colleagues to support the McGovern-Lewis amendment.

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