WASHINGTON - JUNE 22 - Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) today applauds the vote by the House of Representatives to dramatically improve access to family planning supplies as part of the FY2008 State-Foreign Operations Appropriations bill (HR 2764). PPFA also appreciates House members for rejecting attempts by family planning opponents, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), and Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), to strip from the bill two key global family planning provisions that expand access to birth control services and information. These provisions are the “Contraceptives and Condoms Exemption” from the Global Gag Rule, and the “Abstinence-Until-Marriage” Earmark Waiver in the, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
“We live in a world where a woman dies of a pregnancy-related complication every minute and someone gets HIV every six and a half seconds — due primarily to the limited availability of contraception and the information necessary to make responsible health care decisions," said PPFA President Cecile Richards. “This vote is a significant step forward in the fight to improve the health and safety of women and families around the world. Through this exemption and waiver, women, men, and young people will have access to the information and tools they need to plan their families and protect their health."
Disease prevention and reproductive health are among the most pressing international health issues. More than 200 million women in developing countries want to delay or end childbearing but lack access to modern contraceptives. Additionally, nearly 40 million people worldwide are infected with HIV/AIDS, and millions more, especially women and young people, are at risk. Improved access to contraceptive methods, like condoms, could prevent 52 million unintended pregnancies, 22 million induced abortions, 1.4 million infant deaths, and 142,000 pregnancy-related deaths per year, as well as prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, thus saving millions of lives.
Currently, the Global Gag Rule prohibits international family planning agencies that provide abortion services, counsel patients on the option of abortion, refer patients to other abortion providers, or advocate for abortion legalization in their own countries from receiving USAID family planning funds, technical assistance, and vitally needed contraceptive supplies. The "Contraceptives and Condoms Exemption" greatly improves access to contraceptives by allowing those agencies that have not signed on to the Global Gag Rule to receive U.S. government-donated contraceptives and condoms.
PEPFAR is a five-year, $15 billion, multifaceted initiative designed to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS around the world. Currently, one-third of all PEPFAR prevention dollars must be spent on abstinence-until-marriage programs that deny participants important information about the role of male latex condoms in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS. With today’s passage of the FY2008 State-Foreign Operations Appropriation bill, the president will have the authority to waive the PEPFAR earmark and thus greatly expand the funding available for the development of culturally appropriate, medically accurate HIV/AIDS prevention programs including those that provide the information and tools necessary to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
“Today's vote puts America back on the right track when it comes to family planning,” added Richards. “We thank our friends in the House of Representatives who voted to greatly improve access to contraception, including condoms, and vital HIV/AIDS prevention information.”
PPFA international programs support efforts to provide comprehensive reproductive health services across Asia and the Pacific region, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean. For more information on the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations bill or on Planned Parenthood, please visit www.plannedparenthood.org.