by Steven Ertelt
February 8, 2008
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Several pro-life groups joined with more than a dozen pro-life members of Congress for a news conference on Thursday to renew their call for amendments to the foreign HIV/AIDS assistance bill. They want changes made to eliminate funding for pro-abortion groups and to restore abstinence education.
House Minority Leader John Boehner said the current version of the bill to reauthorize the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief would remove abstinence spending requirements.
He said it would also open the door to funding pro-abortion international groups that would "undermine" PEPFAR and place the program’s work "at risk."
Rep. Mike Pence, a top pro-life Republican working for changes to the bill, also spoke at the event.
He said the removal of rules prohibiting groups from using the HIV/AIDS money on promoting or performing abortions would "transform the program into a megafunding pool for organizations with an abortion-promotion agenda."
We must take these proposals as a call to action. PEPFAR must not be hijacked," he added. "we intend to fight the objectionable proposals in the Democrat reauthorization bill so that a clean reauthorization bill can be passed by Congress and sent to the President.
Pro-life advocates at the event also complained the current draft of the reauthorization bill eliminates the provision that requires one-third of the funding to go to pro-abstinence groups.
According to an AP report, Rep. Tom Lantos, a California Democrat who chairs the committee that will work on the legislation, said the Bush administration supports the rules change.
However, the Bush administration released a letter to Congress yesterday making it clear that’s not the case and saying President Bush would oppose the bill unless it’s made abortion-neutral and the abstinence provisions are brought back.