Integration - HIV/AIDS, U.S. Foreign Assistance

Mr. President: Read the Bill!

Members of
Congress head back to their districts this month with the threat of a
Presidential veto of the 2008 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill casting a dark cloud over the good work they’ve done. Why a possible veto? It’s
all because of a provision that exempts U.S.-donated contraceptives and condoms
from the restrictions of the Global Gag Rule. Who
would have thought that helping life-saving contraceptives and condoms get to
the people who want and need them most would be reason to veto $34.5 billion in
foreign assistance?

Keeping this
language in the 2008 foreign assistance budget is critical – and much will need
to happen in the coming months. First, the U.S. Senate, which is expected to
vote on their own version of the foreign spending bill when they return to
Washington,
must take a stand for women’s lives and keep this language in the bill. After
that, the House and Senate must gear up to overturn the promised Presidential
veto.

We at PAI wonder
if anyone in the Bush Administration has really even read this language
carefully. It’s hard to fathom that the President would veto the entire foreign
operations budget in order to prevent these supplies from reaching the women and
couples around the world who desperately want and need them. Since the Global Gag Rule was reinstated by President Bush
in 2001, shipments of U.S.-donated contraceptives
have been stopped to 20 developing countries
in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Filling the
unmet need for contraceptives would avert 52 million unwanted pregnancies each
year, preventing an estimated 29 million abortions, 142,000 pregnancy-related
deaths and 505,000 children from losing their mothers. How could the
President possibly disagree with provisions that have the potential to save so
many lives?

Just because
Congress isn’t in session this month doesn’t mean that they take a break from
their responsibilities on the Hill. While your Senators and Representatives are
in your district, ask them to support this bill and vote to overturn a
Presidential veto.

In the meantime,
we have a little homework assignment for the Bush administration: Take a moment
to read this language. We think you’ll realize that all it does is save
lives.

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