Senate Rejects Vote Concerning Forced Abortion Funds in PEPFAR AIDS Bill

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 15, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Rejects Vote Concerning Forced Abortion Funds in PEPFAR AIDS Bill

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 15
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — The Senate, on Tuesday, voted against an effort to limit funding in the PEPFAR bill that would go to a group that supports China’s campaign of forced abortions. The Senate voted 70-24 to kill an amendment from Sen. Jim DeMint that would have limited the funds.

The DeMint amendment would have primarily reduced the size and scope of the PEPFAR program to fight AIDS in Africa and limit it to the initial 15 countries and $50 billion.

Lawmakers who wanted to expand the initiative voted against the measure, which would have also barred funding for an overseas group that supports “coercive abortion and forced sterilization.”

Some senators very likely voted against the amendment because they wanted to see the size of the program grow rather than out of an objection to the forced abortion funding.

Meanwhile, a leading pro-life source informed that top pro-life groups in Washington took a neutral position on the amendment.

Some pro-life groups were concerned that the amendment didn’t actually remove the funds from the bill but merely required the pro-abortion Global Fund to set aside the funds in their bookkeeping procedures. That is an approach pro-life groups have rejected with regard to UNFPA funding — preferring to see the funds axed entirely.

As a result, pro-life groups likely won’t score the vote when they reported on pro-life votes to their members.

In addition, some pro-life senators had already worked out ways to get concessions on the bill in exchange for withholding votes on more amendments.

Before the vote, DeMint sent a statement he eventually gave on the Senate floor that characterized the vote on his amendment as one focused on abortion.

“This vote is about whether the Senate will allow American tax dollars to go to organizations that provide or support forced abortions in China, which is absolutely outrageous and must be stopped,” DeMint said.

“These unconscionable acts not only take unborn life, they violate the human rights of women. Our nation should celebrate life instead of sending funds to organizations that forcibly destroy children in the womb and force women to be sterilized," he said.

“No matter how badly some want this bill to pass, we should not say we are saving lives in Africa while funding programs in China that take life and harm women,” added DeMint.

The new PEPFAR bill greatly increases Global Fund funding with more than $10 billion over the next five years.

The senator said the fund has given money to the Chinese population control program that limits families to one child each and forces women to have abortions when they violate the dictate.

At least two large Global Fund grants in 2004 and 2006, totaling over $70 million, were given to various Chinese agencies including the National Population and Planning Commission, the organization tasked with implementing China’s “one-child-per-family” policy.

According to the U.S. State Department’s Report on Human Rights Practices in China: “The government continued its coercive birth limitation policy, in some cases resulting in forced abortion and sterilization."

"In 2005 in Linyi, Shandong Province. International press reports alleged that local official detained some 130,000 persons and forced them to submit to abortions or sterilization procedures. At least 7,000 persons were forcibly sterilized. Local officials profited from this illegal system by charging detention fees," the report added.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, put forward the motion to kill DeMint’s amendments.

Neither presidential candidate, pro-abortion Illinois Sen. Barack Obama nor pro-life Sen. John McCain of Arizona, voted on the Reid motion to kill the DeMint amendment.

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