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Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


CHILDREN'S HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2009 -- (Senate - January 28, 2009)

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Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, I thank my colleague from Florida for raising this issue. This has come up recently as President Obama has changed the Mexico City policy so that the United States can fund abortions and groups that promote abortions overseas. This, of course, was not the policy of the United States in the last administration for the last 8 years. It was prior to that in the Clinton administration. And prior to that in the Reagan and Bush years, it was not the policy. This has been going back and forth for some time.

I think it is pretty clear as far as the U.S. public that they do not like the idea of us funding abortions overseas. Some people may tolerate it here at home and say, OK, that is something I will just live with, but they do not like the idea of our taxpayers' dollars going to fund abortions overseas. And at a time when we are staring at $10 trillion in debt going to $12 trillion, with a stimulus package of lots of different items, including some that do not seem particularly stimulative, this does not make any sense to people. Then you go overseas, and to a lot of places, it does not make any sense, either, as Senator Martinez mentioned, that in Latin American countries, African countries that are very strongly pro-life, in many cases, we are supporting policies or groups or institutions that are promoting abortion.

What is going on with the United States? I thought you guys stood for life and for the dignity of the individual, and then the United States is funding this? This has been back and forth, a long seesaw battle, within our overall discussion here. I simply point out that this does not help us in foreign policy. This certainly does not help the budget deficit or the debt. This certainly does not stimulate the economy. There is no major policy reason to do this.

Some people will argue that we should be supporting this policy and that this is something we ought to do to help people overseas. I think most people overseas would much rather have us put this money in AIDS prevention work, in malaria work, in working on neglected diseases that affect so many people overseas that have a broad basis of support in the United States and there, rather than this policy, which is such a controversial, negative policy that is being promoted and pushed and seen that way in so many places around the world. This does not help us out at all.

Then we look at some countries such as China where situations arise of forced abortions and forced sterilizations continuing to come out in the media. We have family planning support there, in places where forced abortions and forced sterilizations still take place. Our money is associated with some of these efforts in different places around the world. People do not like that policy. No matter how pro-choice they are, they do not want us associated with that, and they do not see any reason for us to be involved in it.

One can look at different things where one is on the choice or life spectrum. I am pro-life. I am strongly pro-life. I believe life has dignity from the very beginning to the very end and that it should be protected. Then we add this into the mix, using U.S. taxpayers' dollars, dollars that we approve here, dollars from all the United States to promote something that a whole bunch of people in the United States completely disagree with on a whole variety of grounds.

I ask my colleagues to back up for a second and say: Aren't there better places for us to put this money if we are looking to do something that is life-affirming and helping people who are in difficulty? There are much better places we can certainly agree on, and I listed several of those on which we could agree and we could work together in this supposedly postpartisan period we are in, that we could work together on these issues. I pushed a number of them, and I can tell you for sure we have a need on neglected diseases in Third World countries and that a little bit of interest and focus on our part yields a whole bunch of saved lives. People dealing with malaria has been a big one. But we need to go on to diseases such as elephantiasis, sleeping sickness--there is a series of them that would build up a lot of good will by the United States overseas, that would increase our standing in places around the world, that there would be no controversy whatsoever associated with but instead would be wholeheartedly embraced both here and overseas.

For these reasons, I do not think it is wise for us to reengage with groups that promote abortion overseas. I ask my colleagues not to do that but to support the Martinez amendment and say to themselves: Let's not do this. Let's do this better, let's do this together. Let's support the Martinez amendment.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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