1997 Scorecard Vote
Rapid global population growth is one of the most serious threats to a healthy and sustainable environment, leading to depletion of natural resources and contributing to pollution. The current world population is estimated at 5.8 billion. At the current growth rate, world human population grows by approximately one billion every 11 years.
For more than 30 years, the United States has contributed funds to voluntary family planning programs worldwide in order to help stabilize human population growth. In recent years, family planning opponents have cut federal funding for these programs by arguing in part that the money funds abortions. In fact, current law prohibits U.S. foreign assistance monies from funding abortion, and there are no reports that any organization receiving U.S. funds has ever violated this prohibition. In addition, family planning supporters note that improving access to voluntary family planning not only protects the life and health of women and children, it is also one of the best ways to reduce unwanted pregnancies.
During consideration of H.R. 2159, the Fiscal Year 1998 Foreign Operations appropriations (budget) bill, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) offered an amendment to deny U.S. family planning funds to non-governmental organizations that are involved in any abortion-related activities, even if paid for with non-U.S. government funds. This restriction would deny funding to some of the most experienced and qualified providers of maternal and child health care and family planning services. Opponents were not satisfied with the current ban on direct U.S. government funding for abortion but sought to bar organizations using any other source of funds. Reps. Ben Gilman (R-NY) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) introduced a substitute amendment which would not apply to organizations that use the funds to prevent abortion as a method of family planning but only to those that promote it as a method of family planning.
On September 4, 1997, the House rejected the Gilman-Pelosi substitute amendment, 210 - 218. YES is the pro-environment vote.
Despite a veto threat from the President, the House subsequently adopted the original Smith amendment, 234 - 191. However, after an intense political battle, the new restrictions were not made a part of the final bill that was signed into law by President Clinton on November 26, 1997.