(UPDATED) “Pro-Life” Ohio Republican Seeks to “Zero Out” International Family Planning Funds


One definition of “bully” is a person who is habitually cruel or overbearing.

As measured by their actions, it seems the GOP is full of bullies these days; it may even be a requirement of membership in the party.

Today’s bully, or let’s say one of them because there are so many to deal with each day, is Representative Bob Latta, Republican from the 5th District in Ohio.  Mr. Latta has introduced an amendment to the GOP’s proposed Continuing Resolution that would eliminate all funding for international family planning.  It could be voted on today.

According to Congressman Donald Payne (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights:

Amendment #262 would eliminate all funding for international family planning programs in the proposed FY 2011 Continuing Resolution.  This devastating cut would have severe immediate and long term impacts on women and their families in the world’s poorest countries. Contrary to the rhetoric we are hearing from some of our colleagues, U.S. international family planning assistance in fact helps to reduce unintended pregnancies and abortions in the developing world.

Mr. Latta is of course “pro-life” (of course) which in our world means you cut off every form of reproductive and sexual healthcare available to women, including the means to prevent unintended and untenable pregnancies, so that they resort to abortion more often and so that more of their newborn infants die at birth.  This is exactly the effect Mr. Latta’s amendment would have.

Estimates by Population Action International indicate that cutting U.S. international funding for family planning and related services would result in an additional 7.8 million unintended pregnancies, an additional 3.7 million abortions, and additional 87,000   newborn deaths, and an additional 12,000 maternal deaths per year.

Taking this action is certainly not why the oft-called upon “American people” put the GOP in the House majority (I am still trying to figure that one out).  In fact, there is strong support for international family planning. Polls consistently show that Americans overwhelmingly support overseas family planning programs, including 69 percent of Independent and Republican voters. “Investing in contraception is a commonsense approach to reducing unintended pregnancies and the number of abortions,” notes Pathfinder International. 

Moreover, the proposed FY 2011 continuing resolution already contains severe cuts for international family planning. The proposed $440 million in the underlying bill represents a cut of over $200 million from current funding levels (FY 2010) and takes funding back five years to FY 2006 levels. The Latta amendment is an extreme and disproportionate attack on family planning.

Eliminating international family planning funding undermines our standing as a global leader. The U.S. has provided access to family planning services and technical assistance overseas for more than 40 years. These programs are cost-effective investments that save lives and support our diplomatic, development and national security priorities. 

This amendment would also turn back the clock on U.S investments in the global fight against HIV infections and AIDS-related illnesses, literally hundreds of billions of dollars worth of investments.

The integration of family planning and HIV and AIDS services is a vital and cost-effective way to prevent HIV infection including through mother-to-child transmission.

Congressman Payne notes that “Investments in family planning services can avert nearly 30 percent more HIV-positive births than use of the nevirapine prophylaxis [a form of treatment given during labor] by HIV-positive pregnant women.”

A recent study, he continued:

[F]ound that, although PEPFAR has been associated with a reduction in HIV-related deaths, trends of increasing adult prevalence rates continue unabated. However, preventing unintended pregnancies, which is an international pillar of preventing mother to child transmission programming, continues to receive insufficient attention in AIDS programs.

The Guttmacher Institute noted in their report Hiding in Plain Sight: The Role of Contraception in Preventing HIV that helping HIV-positive women avoid unwanted pregnancies not only lowers the rate of new infections, but does so at a relatively low cost.

Still “pro-life” forces oppose these investments.  Vociferously.

The United States Council of Catholic Bishops, the ultimate “pro-life” authority, fought tooth and nail to deny HIV-positive women access to contraceptive services in U.S. policy under the re-authorization of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in 2008.  They succeeded.  Now HIV infected women have fewer choices than ever.  And Mr. Latta wants to zero those out too.  It’s not enough to make them suffer.  We need to take our heel and ground their support down to nothing.

You see how “pro-life” this all is?

I thought so.

Bullies are very, very “pro-life.

Advocates are urging your support in opposing this amendment.

Pathfinder’s action page can be found here.

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  • jaimealexis-fowler

    Thanks so much Jodi for highlighting this important issue! For anyone who wants to take action, please contact your Representative today! We need all the voices we can get. http://www.pathfinder.org/savelives