Sixty members from both chambers of the U.S. Congress wrote to the head of the federal government’s foreign aid agency last week, urging protection of U.S. funds from being used by the United Nations to perform or promote abortions.
The August 13 bicameral letter expressed thanks to John Barsa, acting administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for his letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres earlier this past spring in which he told the UN official to stop treating abortion as “essential” humanitarian relief during the coronavirus pandemic.
In the May 18, 2020 letter Barsa had asked that the UN “remove references to ‘sexual and reproductive health,’ and its derivatives from the Global Humanitarian Response Plan (Global HRP), and drop the provision of abortion as an essential component of the UN’s priorities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“We agree with you that the UN should not use this crisis as an opportunity to advance access to abortion as an ‘essential service,’” the 60 members of Congress told Barsa last week regarding the UN’s pandemic-related push for abortion.
“The UN’s COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan is only the latest example of the UN’s brazen imposition of abortion and a fictitious international right to abortion,” they said, “which violates the sovereignty of its member states and UN conventions that affirm the right to life.”
The August 13 letter praises Barsa’s advocacy for removal of the abortion references from the UN ’s Global HRP and virus response, and calls for more action to apply the Siljander Amendment, an annual appropriations provision that has barred use of U.S. funds for abortion-related lobbying since 1981.
“Your insistence that UN agreements and activities should be neutral on abortion is crucial to enforcing Siljander Amendment, so that the billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars given annually to the UN are not used to lobby for abortion,” the lawmakers wrote. “To that end, we also urge additional action to protect U.S. funds from being used by UN organizations to perform or promote abortions.”
“United States leaders and diplomats should insist that US-supported international agreements and multilateral assistance do not include abortion under the guise of sexual and reproductive health,” they said. “This insistence is necessary to enforce the Siljander Amendment. This oversight is especially necessary for UN organizations that receive billions of dollars in US funding that are subject to the Siljander Amendment.”
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The Congressional group behind last week's letter was led by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA).
Other UN organizations that lobby for abortion include the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF), the UN Commission on Human Rights (UN Human Rights Council) and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.
The WHO has a well-documented history of promoting abortion, even in countries where it’s illegal or restricted, the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM) reports, and in June, the WHO encouraged expansion of telemed distribution of abortion drugs, citing the pandemic.
The UNFP has been a proponent of China’s coercive “family planning” practices, according to The Daily Signal, those practices including forced abortion.
In July the U.N. Human Rights Council advanced a resolution claiming that “sexual and reproductive health services,” including “safe abortion,” are an “essential health service” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
And the UN Commission on Human Rights also recently publicly attacked pro-life laws enacted by U.S. states, a release from the Senate Pro-Life Caucus said, along with also objecting to Barsa’s May letter.
The additional action asked for in the August 13 letter is that U.S. contributions to the UN’s abortion-lobbying organizations be cut in amounts proportional to the amounts of their abortion-related lobbying.
The request is similar to action taken after several U.S. senators sent a December 2018 letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also urging enforcement of the Siljander amendment against the Organization of American States over promotion of abortion in Latin America. That group of nine senators was also led by Lankford.
The 60 Congress members also asked in last week’s letter that the exception for multilateral organizations be removed from the expanded Mexico City Policy, renamed in 2017 as Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (PLGHA).
“US tax dollars should not finance UN organizations that perform or promote abortion as a method of family planning through voluntary contributions," the bicameral Congressional group wrote, "including for global health activities.”