Thursday, July 1, 2010

House Panel Approves Big Increase for International Family Planning

By Brian Dixon

Yesterday, the House State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, led by Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), approved $735 million for international family planning programs in 2011 – an $86.5 million, or 13 percent, increase over the current funding level.

It is also nearly $20 million more than President Obama requested. This commitment to family planning is very welcome and is especially impressive given the fact that the overall funding for international affairs is $4 billion less than the President sought.

We are, however, disappointed that the bill does not include a provision that would prevent the future imposition of the odious Global Gag Rule. Ninety-one House members, led by Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY), sent a letter to Chairwoman Lowey urging her to include this language in the bill. Without this provision, it is likely that the new resources will not be used as effectively as they could. The threat of a future reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule is causing many aid officials to avoid making grants to organizations – among the most experienced and effective family planning providers in the world – that may be disqualified again in just a few years.

The Senate is not expected to consider their version of the bill for several more weeks. We will urge the Senate to support similar funding levels for family planning programs, and to again include a permanent end to the Global Gag Rule in their version of the bill, as they did last year.

We will continue to follow the appropriations process as it unfolds, and we will keep you up to date on how you can help.