U.S. Foreign Assistance

House Bill Still a Family Planning Fixer-Upper, But One Important Repair Made for Peace Corps Volunteers

Earlier this afternoon, the House Appropriations Committee approved an FY 2015 State Department and Foreign Operations appropriations bill that funds the international affairs budget, including funding for international family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) programs. 

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The bill was adopted after three pro-FP/RH funding and policy amendments were rejected, leaving harmful policy riders and a low FP/RH funding ceiling in the draft bill in place. If enacted into law, the House bill would reinstate the Global Gag Rule, eliminate the U.S. contribution to UNFPA, and reduce funding for international family planning by nearly 25 percent from current levels. It will be up to champions in the Senate to make the necessary repairs in conference negotiations to bring the final bill up to code.

On a positive note, the committee adopted an amendment by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) to remove the ban on the Peace Corps paying for abortions for Peace Corps volunteers, even in the narrow cases of rape, incest and life endangerment. Since both the Senate and House committees have now removed the prohibition from their respective versions of the bill, the ban should not be subject to further negotiation. As result, coverage for abortion in cases of life, rape, and incest should be available to Peace Corps volunteers once the final FY 2015 appropriations legislation is enacted into law later this year.

For additional details on the amendments and votes, see the full Washington Memo.

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