2001 Scorecard Vote
According to the United Nations, in October 1999 the world's population reached the 6 billion mark--doubling itself in a mere 40 years. This rapid population growth, which exacerbates pollution and accelerates the depletion of natural resources, is one of the most serious threats to a healthy and sustainable environment.
For more than three decades, the United States has worked to stabilize human population growth by contributing to voluntary family planning programs worldwide. By allowing women to plan the size of their families, these programs help to conserve natural resources, protect wildlife and habitat, and ultimately ensure a healthy world for future generations. In recent years, however, family planning opponents have cut federal funding for these programs by arguing, in part, that the money funds abortion. In fact, current law prohibits U.S. foreign assistance from funding abortion.
On his second day in office, President Bush reinstated restrictions on family planning funds that were in effect during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. These restrictions bar U.S. family planning assistance to foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that use their own funds to provide legal abortion services or to participate in public debate over abortion laws or policies in their own countries.
These restrictions hamper the ability of the U.S. Agency for International Development to fund voluntary family planning and other reproductive health programs. Preliminary assessments by U.S. family planning organizations of the new policy's impact on the ground suggest that many of the best local organizations, providing the most comprehensive family planning and reproductive health services, are among those most likely to be deprived of funding by the new restrictions. The restrictions also use the leverage of U.S. funds to silence discussion on a legitimate subject for public debate.
During consideration of the Fiscal Year 2002-2003 State Department authorization bill (H.R. 1646) in the House International Relations Committee, Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) successfully introduced an amendment that overturned the Bush administration restrictions on family planning organizations. The Lee amendment prohibited the president from refusing to fund foreign NGOs solely because they provide medical services, including counseling and referral, that are legal in their countries and are legal in the United States.
Representatives Henry Hyde (R-IL) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) offered a motion on the House floor to strike the Lee amendment. On May 16, 2001, the House adopted the Hyde-Smith amendment, 218-210 (House roll call vote 115). NO is the pro-environment vote. The Senate version of the bill, S. 1401, included a provision that would have prevented the administration from carrying out the restriction on family planning aid. However, the House and Senate conferees removed the provision from their report due to a veto threat from the White House and passed the conference report in December. At press time, the president had not yet signed the bill.