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In a major defeat for the reproductive health of women in developing countries, the House Appropriations Committee today approved a State Department and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill that substantially cuts U.S. support for international family planning assistance. Rejecting the President's budget request of $642.7 million, the Committee approved $461 million appropriation for international family planning, $180 million less than the President's request, and $149 million below the current funding level.
The Committee's bill wiped out all funding for the United Nation's Population Fund (UNFPA), and, if approved by the full Congress, it would re-impose the global gag rule that prohibits US foreign assistance from funding family planning providers that advocate in any way for access to safe abortions. The Committee narrowly rejected an effort to reinstate funding for UNFPA.
Robert Walker, president of the Population Institute, “Today’s Committee’s action is yet another Congressional assault on family planning, but this is not the final word.” The bill now goes to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, where the Committee’s budget allocation for international family planning is expected to prevail. The Senate, however, is expected to reject the House’s proposed cutback.
Walker warned that, “Everyone who is concerned about family planning and reproductive health of women should be making their voices heard. With another debt ceiling fight expected, we can take nothing for granted.”