2000 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 conserve natural resources, protect wildlife and habitat, and ultimately ensure a healthier world for future generations. In recent years, family planning opponents have cut federal funding for these programs by arguing, in part, that the money funds abortion. However, current law prohibits U.S. foreign assistance from funding abortions.
At the end of the last congressional session, in order to reach a compromise on the payment of U.S. back dues to the United Nations, the White House and congressional leadership agreed on significant new restrictions on overseas family planning providers. Under the agreement, foreign non-governmental and multilateral organizations may not receive U.S. family planning funds if they use their own funds to provide legal abortion services or to participate in public debates over abortion laws or policies in their own countries. The restriction allowed the President to waive enforcement of the ban but only for a very small percentage (4 percent) of total program funding.
These restrictions hamper the ability of the U.S. Agency for International Development to fund voluntary family planning and other reproductive health programs. The restrictions also use the leverage of U.S. funds to silence discussion on a legitimate subject for public debate--an abridgment of free speech that would be deemed unconstitutional if applied to U.S. citizens and organizations.
During consideration of the Fiscal Year 2001 Foreign Operations appropriations bill, H.R. 4811, Representatives Jim Greenwood (R-PA) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) offered a motion to strike these restrictions from the bill. On July 13, 2000, the House rejected the Greenwood-Lowey amendment, 206–221 (House roll call vote 396). YES is the pro-environment vote. The Senate passed a Foreign Operations appropriations bill that did not include the restrictions on family planning funds. In conference with the Senate, House negotiators agreed to drop the gag rule rider from the bill.