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

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC


DEPARTMENT OF STATE, FOREIGN OPERATIONS, AND RELATED PROGRAMS APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008

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Mr. BROWNBACK. Madam President, I want to describe the overview of this and go into the specifics. This amendment No. 2708 deals with the Mexico City policy. The second one deals with the Kemp-Kasten legislation. They are both policies the U.S. has in place. Kemp-Kasten has been in place over 20 years. The Mexico City policy has been in place since President Reagan. It was repealed under President Clinton and put back in place under President Bush. These are long, well-known policy issues. They are significant policy issues. There is significant policy debate about it.

The centerpiece of this debate is whether the U.S. should use taxpayer funding to fund abortion overseas. That is at the centerpiece of the debate--whether the U.S. Government should use taxpayer dollars to fund abortions overseas. I submit that regardless of your position on abortion, we should not be using taxpayer funds to fund abortions here or overseas. A number of Americans would oppose on moral grounds that their taxpayer dollars are being used to fund abortions here or overseas but particularly overseas. They would object to that. And a number of people would say why are we even doing something like this overseas.

People who are pro-choice might say: I am OK with abortion, but why are we using taxpayer dollars to do this overseas? Why not let those countries and governments deal with their own problems rather than us funding these issues?

There is a taxpayer angle on this issue and there is an overseas meddling angle on this issue, and there is obviously a major moral issue of our day that is involved with this issue.

These amendments raise important issues. Should, as I mentioned, U.S. taxpayers be forced to subsidize international groups involved in abortions? Should U.S. taxpayers support organizations involved with coercive abortion policies? Some people support abortion but not coercive abortion. And should U.S. taxpayers be involved with organizations that are connected to involuntary sterilizations?

I hope everybody in this body would be opposed to those last two points.

As drafted, the Foreign Operations bill, unfortunately, answers yes to all three questions, and that is what this first amendment, the Mexico City language amendment, seeks to turn around.

The bill is a radical departure from both current policy and common sense, and it should make us pause. Do we want to go down this road?

The first amendment I offer today addresses what is known as the Mexico City policy. This policy originated with President Ronald Reagan, as I stated previously, in 1984 and has been continued by the current administration. The Mexico City policy prohibits Federal taxpayer funds from going to organizations that perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations. The Mexico City language is this: prohibits Federal taxpayer funds from going to organizations that ``perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations.'' However, the language in the pending bill would gut this policy. In fact, the language in this appropriations bill implies that elective abortion is an acceptable method of family planning.

No matter how one feels about the taking of human life through surgically induced abortions, surely we can reach some consensus that abortion is not a legitimate means of family planning.

Further, I hope we can agree that taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize groups that provide abortion, many of whom object to abortion and find it morally wrong. The Mexico City policy is common sense and aligns with the values of most Americans.

The bottom line is, U.S. taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize or support organizations that perform or promote abortions for overseas family planning programs.

In case my colleagues think, OK, that was the language in 1984, that was the world situation in 1984, let me read from a newspaper article, an AP story that was filed on August 30, 2007. The article is ``Chinese victims of forced late-term abortion fight back.''

The article is dated August 30, 2007. It reads as follows:

Yang Zhongchen, a small-town businessman, wined and dined three government officials for permission to become a father.

Yes, permission to become a father. It didn't work. Even though he wined and dined, his wife was taken out of town and her baby was killed by injection while still inside her. This is her quote. I want to read this for my colleagues:

``Several people held me down, they ripped my clothes aside and the doctor pushed a large syringe into my stomach,'' says Jin Yani, a shy, petite woman with a long ponytail. ``It was very painful. ..... It was all very rough.''

The article goes on to say:

Some 30 years after China decreed a general limit of one child per family, resentment still brews over the state's regular and sometimes brutal intrusion into intimate family matters. Not only are many second pregnancies aborted, but even to have one's first child requires a license.

Why would we want to be associated with any sort of family planning that is coercive of an abortion, regardless of where you are on the choice issue? Whether you are pro-choice or not, you wouldn't want to be associated with a government, with a group that does forced abortions, coercive abortions such as I am reading about in an AP story written at the end of August of this year. Why would we want to be a part of that?

Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record the article on ``Chinese victims of forced late-term abortion fight back.''

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Mr. BROWNBACK. Madam President, several years ago, when I was chairing the South Asia Subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee, we held a hearing on a lady who went undercover in China and filmed and interviewed a number of women who had been forced into abortions. She talked about the brutality. She brought the interviews forward. This continues to go on to today.

There is no reason that we as an American Government should be associated with it. Period. The Mexico City language has been a longstanding policy of the United States. It makes sense. It is something we should continue. It is gutted in the bill.

I want to make another point on this issue. If this language remains in the bill, if the Mexico City language is not put back in the bill, or if the current language remains in the bill and it goes to the President, it will be vetoed. The President has issued a very clear statement to the Congress to maintain the language of Mexico City and Kemp-Kasten, saying very clearly, if this is in the bill, the bill will be vetoed.

I don't know why we would want to overturn a policy that has been in place for a number of years, a policy that makes common sense, to get a veto on a very important Foreign Operations bill.

I thank my colleague from Vermont who chairs the committee and my colleague from New Hampshire who is the ranking member for many good provisions in this Foreign Operations bill. I know my colleague from Vermont has a heart for foreign operations issues, for taking care of people overseas and domestically, to do whatever he can in situations that are difficult, that are dire. We have talked about it many times. I am very appreciative of his efforts in this field. This is not the way to go. This is something that will divide us. This is something that is harmful. It is something that will be vetoed. It is something that will bring this bill back in front of us. I believe we will have the votes to sustain the President's veto. We should not go this route on this particular bill.

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Mr. BROWNBACK. Madam President, I thank my colleagues from Vermont and New Hampshire for getting this play set. These are well-known policy issues. They have been debated a long time in this country. My guess is that most people in this body know where they stand on these particular issues. A lengthy debate is not necessary.

What I want to do is clarify what we are talking about, No. 1, and No. 2, factually these conditions continue to exist in the world and this is not something that is an old policy and not needed any longer.

I ask unanimous consent to add Senator Corker as a cosponsor to my amendment No. 2708.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. BROWNBACK. Madam President, I thank my colleagues for working on this issue. It is a gut-check issue about where you stand on life, where you stand on the U.S. role around the world, where you stand on whether we should be using taxpayers' funds for abortion, where you stand on whether we should be using taxpayers' dollars to promote abortion overseas. I think those are important and key issues. They are issues on which people know where they stand, and I hope we will be able to have a positive vote on all of these amendments.

I also say to my colleagues that if these particular provisions as currently exist in the bill, as I already stated, pass through this body and are in the ultimate bill, I believe the bill will be vetoed and we will be right back talking about this bill which has a number of very good provisions in it on foreign affairs, foreign operations that are very important, but this is certainly going to hold it up.

Continuing my comments, as we all know, many Americans are deeply opposed to abortion. If you poll the issue of taxpayer funding of abortion, a solid majority of Americans is opposed to taxpayer funding of abortion.

They do not want a part of it. They may say: I am okay with a woman's right to choose, but I don't want us to pay for that. I don't see why the taxpayers should be paying for it, let alone abortions overseas. Many who support abortion question whether it should be used for family planning purposes, which these funds are designated to be used for. We should not force American taxpayers to subsidize organizations that perform or actively promote abortion. That is a position--if you polled that--that would be supported by 75 percent of the American public, probably. I don't have actual poll data on it, but people don't support doing this, and there is no reason we should do it.

If anything, they would like to see us cut foreign operations and foreign aid budgets, and here would be a prime spot. They would be happy to see this cut taking place, and it would support their view of the role of the United States in the world and the moral authority with which the United States leads.

These are very difficult moral issues, and then we go and insert ourselves in a moral debate overseas--a moral debate about which we are very divided here--and it doubles the negative view of the United States meddling in a country's domestic issues and one of such key significance as life, human life; that we would meddle with U.S. taxpayer dollars.

I would like to argue a few other points. First, some will argue incorrectly that Federal tax dollars would not have to be used for actual abortions but could still be used to support the organization's other activities. This is something you will hear a lot about: We are not actually funding abortion, we are funding an organization that happens to be associated with abortion, but it is not for abortions. Well, I think most people see through that figleaf. It fails to properly understand the fungibility of money.

If I represent an organization, and I have money in this pocket and money in this pocket, but the budget all flows together--it supports staff, it supports overhead--it is used to support the full organization, and that is U.S. taxpayer money. Again, we are talking about overseas. It is used to support that organization. Sure, they will show us that, yes, in our bookkeeping and recordkeeping we don't support abortions with U.S. taxpayer money, but it does support the overall organization, and the image of that organization overseas is they support abortion. So you are funding abortion, even if the actual dollars themselves don't go for abortion. People get it.

I don't think we should fall for the figleaf they are going to keep a separate set of books. It is one organization, and the money goes to support one organization that has one policy, and that policy is to support and promote abortion overseas. The organization receives funds, and they can simply reallocate private funds or other sources of financial support away from their nonabortion-related activities into their abortion activities. It frees up other money they have that they can get from us and then use the money they have from private sources to fund abortions. So we are still helping out with abortions.

Second, the Mexico City policy also prohibits organizations that actively promote abortion from receiving funds. This means our Federal tax dollars should not be used to support the lobbying efforts of pro-abortion organizations that are attempting to change the abortion laws in other countries. These are groups that are trying to push pro-abortion laws, pro-choice laws in many other countries. Why should we be involved in lobbying efforts in other countries on a controversial topic such as abortion? That makes no sense whether you are pro-life or pro-abortion as to why we should do that.

These are basic considerations I believe we should take into account with the amendment I have offered today to strike the language in this bill which guts the Mexico City policy. The current bill language guts the Mexico City policy. In effect, my amendment would ensure the Mexico City policy stands as is. It would stand.

I wish to recognize, too, that my colleagues, particularly the Senator from California, she and I have had various debates about this. I certainly don't question her ability. I don't question her heart. We view this differently. I don't think we should be anywhere near policies that promote abortion overseas. I see no reason the United States should be involved in policies that promote abortion overseas or the support of organizations that promote abortions overseas. My colleague from California looks at this differently. I respect her and her opinion on this.

I would hope our colleagues would look at this and simply ask--particularly those who are voting on this for the first time--is this something they want the United States to be associated with. A lot of people get mad at the United States for pushing its weight around overseas. A number of people get in our face and mad at the United States for pushing cultural changes overseas. I would think most of my colleagues would be very sensitive to our pushing cultural changes overseas, saying: OK, we have policies about democracy, we have thoughts on that; and people should be allowed to govern themselves. We don't necessarily want to push our views on major moral issues around the world today. Yet here is one of a most offensive nature to many Americans, to many people overseas, and the United States is funding it.

Why not take the money and use it to do water well promotion or provide AIDS drugs to help people to be able to live or malaria or tuberculosis, where there is no controversy associated with that. In those situations, people would applaud us helping them out with a problem they have, instead of getting involved in a very divisive moral issue in their country as well as ours. This doesn't make sense that we would do this.

AMENDMENT NO. 2707

Madam President, in the order of agreement, I would like to call up now the second amendment that I would propose, and I ask unanimous consent that the current one be set aside and the second amendment be called up.

I do not have a number. It deals with the Kemp-Kasten language.

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Mr. BROWNBACK. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that further reading of the amendment be dispensed with.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The amendment is as follows:
(Purpose: To prohibit funding of organizations that support coercive abortion)

On page 240, beginning on line 4, strike ``Provided'' and all that follows through ``sterilization:'' on line 9 and insert ``Provided further, That none of the funds made available in this Act nor any unobligated balances from prior appropriations may be made available to any organization or program which, as determined by the President, supports, or participates in the management of, a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization:''.

Mr. BROWNBACK. Madam President, this is a provision similar to the last one, as far as the issue. It is more specific. It has been the policy of the United States since 1985, and consistently been the policy of the United States through Republican and Democratic Congresses, through Republican and Democratic administrations. It is commonly referred to as the Kemp-Kasten legislation. It would require the reinsertion of what is known as the Kemp-Kasten law into this legislation. This law helps to ensure that American taxpayers do not subsidize groups and organizations with ties to coercive abortions and forced sterilizations. So this is a narrower subset of the past amendment, the last amendment that I put forward. I would like to read it to my colleagues. It is a short amendment. It is well-known language. I would hope it would get near unanimous support in this body. We would put this language in the bill:

That none of the funds made available in this Act nor any unobligated balances from prior appropriations may be made available to any organization or program which, as determined by the President, supports, or participates in the management of, a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.

Coerced abortion. Involuntary sterilization. It says you cannot support groups or organizations that participate in each of those. Now, I don't know of anybody in the Congress who I have ever run into at all that supports coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization.

We have seen involuntary sterilization at times in the past in this country, and it was a bad, dark chapter. This is not something we want to be a part of. What we are saying is you cannot support any organization overseas that is involved in involuntary sterilizations or coerced abortions, commonly referred to, as I said, as the Kemp-Kasten legislation. This has been the law on the books for 20 years, and I think my colleagues can see why.

This is something people don't support. It has been in place since 1985 through Republican-led Congresses and Democratically led Congresses, Republican administrations and Democratic administrations. However, year after year the language has been watered down in the Foreign Operations appropriation bill and essentially gutted. That is why in this amendment my colleagues will support it. This is language we would reinsert into this bill.

This commonsense provision prohibits funding of these organizations. One important effect of this law has been to prohibit taxpayer funding of the United Nations Population Fund. That is what this narrow piece of the debate will be about, because of that agency's support for and participation in the management of the population control program of the People's Republic of China. This program relies heavily on Government-coerced abortions.

This gets a bit personal with me. One of our children is adopted from China. I think often of the woman who had our child, Jenna; that somehow she fought through a system that would have paid for, in places and cases, a coerced abortion. But she fought through this system to have the child who is my daughter, who is 9 years old, and who won her third grade spelling bee contest. She is, I think, a beautiful gift to society. A beautiful gift to the world. Why would we want to be anywhere closely associated with any government or organization that would have forced people, such as my daughter's mother, to have an abortion? I don't know why anybody would want to be associated with that or come anywhere close to that.

I read to my colleagues, and we inserted in the Record an AP story about this still going on today. This is not an isolated incident. This happens in many places. We have held Senate hearings with people where the local population control officials in China are very aggressive on pushing a one-child policy, and that you have to get a license for that child. Many women will flee a local community when they are pregnant in order to have their child somewhere else. My daughter was left on the doorsteps of an orphanage by somebody who fought through that system. Maybe she was from a community that was some ways away, but somehow she fought through to have this child. Why would we want to be anywhere close to something like that?

The Appropriations Committee-approved bill has inappropriately removed the Kemp-Kasten provision by changing the language in important ways. It requires evidence that the UNFPA directly supports coercive abortion. We, as a civilized society, should reject the brutal practice of forced abortion, whether it is promoted directly or indirectly. If you have local population planning authorities in China who are indirectly supporting coercive abortion, do we want to be anywhere closely associated with that? I don't think so. The bill removes the language giving the President the explicit authority to invoke the provision.

We ought to allow the President to enforce this provision, as it is essential, I believe, to a civilized society. A civilized society doesn't do forced abortions, coercive abortions or involuntary sterilization. The Brownback amendment would restore the Kemp-Kasten language that has been the law for over 20 years.

While we have had a rigorous debate in this country about abortion, we have come to some fundamental agreements, I believe. One of those agreements is we should not use tax dollars to fund coercive abortion. It is a brutal practice and it should be stopped. We should not use this as an occasion for partisan politics. Whatever your thoughts on abortion, we should be able to agree that forced abortion goes too far. It is not worthy of the America we all know is possible. I envision an America where the strong protect the weak.

We ought to value each life and every life, everywhere and without exception. That is why I talk often about being pro-life and whole-life. I believe the life in the womb is sacred. I believe the life of a child in Darfur is sacred and a child in China. It is a hopeful message and a unifying message and it is one that should apply in this bill on this language.

I urge my colleagues to support the Brownback amendment to prohibit funding for forced abortions and return to the sensible policy of the past 20 years and to advance a culture of life; to not get involved in other countries' internal debates on abortion, particularly ones involving forced abortions and sterilizations.

I yield the floor, I reserve the remainder of my time, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. BROWNBACK. Madam President, in the time I have allotted, I would like to respond to some of the arguments put forward by my colleague from California, who is a tremendous advocate on the cause and the case. We certainly see it a different way, different light. There is a term that is starting to move around the world a fair amount today because they are seeing it in practice. The term is called gendercide. It is a product of family planning institutions in places, particularly, such as China and India. There are laws in India, particularly, that you cannot reveal the sex of a child in utero because so many of the female babies are being killed. Even then they are not working as laws. The people doing the sonograms will wink or nod to tell whether it is a girl or a boy child. And if it is a girl child, a lot of times the parents will go on and go forward with an abortion.

It has a result and effect that is taking place--normal balance ratios. You normally have a few more male children born than female children. In China your average now is 115 males born per 100 females. In some areas in China the ratio is 120 to 130 males to 100 females in the country.

As I mentioned, my own experience with adopting a child from China, Jenna--Jenna, a joy in our household. And if you go into a Chinese orphanage, it is virtually all female children in a Chinese orphanage. There will be some male children. They are the ones who have some physical, sometimes mental difficulties, but otherwise it is all girls in the orphanage.

My colleague talks about that women are dying through these policies. Yes, they are dying through these policies. Female children around the world are being killed through these policies. Female babies are being left at orphanages or other places around the world because of these policies. I think that is a powerful indictment of a system that still forces abortions on people, still forces people to have forced sterilizations. I do not think we should be anywhere around these. That is why the second bill, on the Kemp-Kasten, I hope would pass the body nearly unanimously because it is about forced abortion and forced sterilization that is taking place.

My colleagues may say, well, I do not think it still goes on. I mentioned an article. I only read a piece of the quote in it, but I wanted to read further in it.

Radio Free Asia reported this year that dozens of women in a small city in a central province in China were forced to have abortions because local officials failed to meet their population targets.

From a report in Radio Free Asia:

In one province thousands of farmers rioted in May after family planners levied huge fines against people with too many children. Those that didn't pay were told their homes would be demolished and their belongings seized.

This is in an AP article and reported by Radio Free Asia. In that second amendment I put forward, we are saying: We do not want any part of this. We do not want any part of an organization that does support this. We do not want to support a coercive family policy in China. We do not want to associate with any organization that does. I would hope all of my colleagues would say: I do not want to see or be a part of anything like that.

My colleague from California talks about us gagging other people. They are free, organizations in every country are free as they want to be to advocate any policy they want to. We just do not want to fund it. We do not need to fund it. If they want to advocate different abortion policies, that is fine. We do not have to pay for it, and we should not pay for it, on something that is so controversial here and there. These are policies that are controversial in other countries.

If we dispute over the money, let's use the money to fight malaria or AIDS or tuberculosis. We will all agree on doing that. We do not gag them. They can do whatever they want. People in those countries get it too. If the United States is funding them, we are funding that voice. We are associated with that voice. I agree there are terrible things that happen in various parts around the world. But these abortion policies are not something that we should be supporting or funding, with its controversy here and there.

There is a basic right around the world, a basic right that I think trumps all other rights. It is the right to life. It is the right to live. Why would we support policies, promote organizations that are promoting policies that are opposed to that very basic right? If you do not get that one, any of the others do not matter a whole lot, do they? If you do not get to live, if you continue to have the kind of gendercide and gender imbalances in various countries taking place, you are not going to have the voices there. You are not going to have the female voices that are there because they are being killed. This is happening in our world today. We do not need to do it.

There is a thought--it is a Proverb actually that says:

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it is death.

One can argue for the saying: Well, OK, this is right for us to do. We need to support family planning. I do not think so. I do not think that is the right way. There are ones who could look at this and say: This is about women's rights and we should use this for women's rights. I do not think you have to support abortion or abortion provider organizations to support women's rights. I think we can do that through other means.

But at the end of the day what this does, and what these policies do, is it ends in death. This ends in the death of a lot of children. The numbers are there, and they are huge. They are the ones we should not be associated with. So I would ask again, my colleagues, on Kemp-Kasten to support this language that we would not fund any organizations or support any groups that support forced abortion and involuntary sterilization. That one I do not think anybody should disagree with, and that we should reinsert the Mexico City language that we will not support organizations that directly or indirectly support abortion or lobby for abortion. These are matters that countries there should take care of. If these provisions remain in the bill, the bill is not going to become law, and it will be back to us.

Madam President, I reserve the remainder of my time, and I yield the floor.

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