Investment in international family planning programs brings enormous
returns in global health, resource security and political stability. I
urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to ensure that these
programs are not subjected to funding cuts or onerous new restrictions
in the final spending bill that congress is negotiating.

For too long, family planning has been treated as little more than a
political football and people all over the world have suffered for it.
Indeed, even today, support for family planning is in doubt in
congress. The House passed spending bill (HR 1) slashed funding for
these critical programs by fully one-third. To exacerbate that cut the
House also voted to reinstate the Global Gag Rule banning funding to
the most experienced, effective and respected private providers of
family planning services in the developing world. Finally, the bill
also prohibits aid to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), an
almost universally supported agency working to provide desperately
needed services to women and families in some 150 countries.

Such actions are incomprehensible and inexcusable. There are some 215
million women today who would like to prevent or delay pregnancy, but
have no access to affordable contraceptives. Our support for family
planning programs is critical to move toward a time when every woman in
the world has the ability that many Americans take for granted: to
choose how many children to have and when to have them. Unintended
pregnancy is one of the biggest challenges facing families, communities
and countries around the world. By denying women access to
contraceptives we are undermining our own future.

The Global Gag Rule was repealed by President Obama early in his term
because it was undermining efforts to expand access to contraceptives.
When it was in effect it caused clinics to close, to cut back outreach
efforts, to eliminate community based projects and it created an
enormous shortfall in contraceptive supplies in several countries. It
would be disastrous to bring it back.

It’s time for congress to commit to making real investment in family
planning. That’s why I strongly urge you to include $1 billion in
funding for these programs in the developing world and dedicate $65
million of that for UNFPA. At the same time, do not allow the
reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule.

Thank you for your consideration.