2003 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.
Since the mid-1990s, family planning opponents have cut federal funding for these programs by arguing, in part, that the money funds abortion. In fact, the use of U.S. foreign assistance to fund abortion has been prohibited since 1973. On his second day in office, President Bush reinstated restrictions in effect during the mid-1980s and early 1990s that prohibit U.S. assistance for foreign nongovernmental organizations that use funding from any other source to: 1) perform abortion in cases other than a threat to the life of the woman, rape, or incest; 2) provide counseling and referral for abortion; or 3) lobby to make abortion legal or more available in their own country.
By hampering the ability of the U.S. Agency for International Development to fund voluntary family planning and other reproductive health programs, the Bush administration's gag rule has already forced clinics in Ethiopia, Kenya, Zambia, and Romania to close down. The rule has also cut off many family planning organizations from contraceptive supplies and impeded international HIV/AIDS prevention efforts.
During consideration of S. 925, the fiscal year 2004-2005 State Department authorization bill, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced an amendment to overturn the Bush restrictions on family planning assistance. In response, Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) offered a motion to table (kill) the Boxer amendment. On July 9, 2003, the Senate rejected the Lugar motion by a 43-53 vote (Senate roll call 267). NO is the pro-environment vote. The Boxer amendment was later approved by unanimous consent. The House version of the bill, approved on July 16, did not include any language on family planning, and the Senate had yet to complete action on the authorization bill at the end of the session.