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U.S. Rep. Chris SmithYouTube

WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — Republican Congressman Chris Smith joined prominent American pro-life leaders and African government officials in warning Washington lawmakers that the Biden administration is using the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the nation’s largest foreign aid program, to push its aggressive abortion agenda abroad.

“President Biden has hijacked PEPFAR, the $6-billion-a-year foreign aid program designed to mitigate HIV/AIDs in many targeted – mostly African – countries in order to promote abortion on demand,” Smith wrote in a letter to colleagues in Congress.

“Bad actor nongovernment organizations (NGOs) that promote abortion have received at least $1.34 billion from PEPFAR funds – the lack of transparency by the Administration means it could be more – since FY 2021 and are now poised to carry out Biden’s new strategy directives.”

Detailing instances in which funding from the program has gone to groups that provide abortion and/or lobby against pro-life laws in foreign countries – such as Population Services International (PSI), Village Reach, and Pathfinder International – Smith stated:

“The Biden Administration’s 2022 PEPFAR action plan, ‘Reimagining PEPFAR’s Strategic Direction,’ makes absolutely clear that the new direction of the program includes ‘integrating’ PEPFAR with abortion promotion. And the Biden Administration’s 2023 PEPFAR Country and Regional Operational Plan Guidance states that country programs should work with organizations seeking to change laws ‘regarding sexual, reproductive, and economic rights of women’ – i.e., abortion.”

“The ‘integration’ with abortion promotion is underway and will only get worse under the Biden strategy plan,” Smith warned.

The Congressman pointed out that Biden’s aggressive abortion agenda is no secret. “In President Biden’s executive order following the Dobbs decision, he stated his commitment to ‘promote access to critical reproductive healthcare services, including abortion,” [emphasis added]. The order explains that ‘reproductive healthcare services’ means ‘medical, surgical, counseling, or referral services relating to the human reproductive system, including services relating to pregnancy or the termination of a pregnancy’ [emphases added].”

Smith then noted that in Biden’s repackaged AIDS Relief program, “Reimagining PEPFAR,” promotes so-called “sexual reproductive health, rights and services,” which the administration has defined as inclusive of abortion. As Smith points out:

  • Strategic Pillar 2 – Sustaining the Response includes a commitment that “Where possible, PEPFAR will integrate HIV programming into strengthened public health systems to manage … sexual reproductive health, rights and services… ”
  • Strategic Pillar 4 – Transformative Partnerships includes a commitment to “[l]everage the very best of American ingenuity… and strengthen coordination between PEPFAR and other U.S. government… including for… sexual and reproductive health and rights… ”

Denouncing the abuse of a program intended to help save lives, Smith declared, “Twenty years ago, PEPFAR was enacted to put a tourniquet on the HIV/AIDS pandemic – and in 2018, I was the prime sponsor of the bill enacted into law to reauthorize PEPFAR for five more years – the program has saved millions of lives. Yet, the noble goals of PEPFAR must not now – or ever– be compromised by integrating the promotion of abortion.”

“U.S. foreign policy, and the foreign programs we fund with billions of dollars in grant money should consistently protect, affirm, and care for those who are ill, and tangibly assist women and children  not poison, starve or dismember unborn children to death.”

“Any multi-year PEPFAR reauthorizing legislation must ensure that Biden’s hijacking of PEPFAR to promote abortion be halted.”

Similarly, on June 6, Ghana’s Speaker of Parliament sent a letter to Republican and Democratic members of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate in which 129 leaders representing 15 African countries signed their names requesting that the PEPFAR funding be “respectful of our beliefs” regarding the sanctity of life in the womb and abandon funding for abortion.

“As you now seek to reauthorize PEPFAR funding, we want to express our concerns and suspicions that this funding is supporting so-called family planning and reproductive health principles and practices, including abortion, that violate our core beliefs concerning life, family, and religion,” the letter states. “We ask that PEPFAR remain true to its original mission and respect our norms, traditions, and values.”

Africans have expressed similar sentiments about Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his country’s attempt to force abortion into their culture.

READ: African leaders urge US Congress to keep abortion funding out of HIV/AIDS programs

Prior to the letter from African officials, on May 1, 31 leaders of prominent pro-life groups sent a letter to Congressman Michael McCaul, Chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Senator James Risch, ranking member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, similarly objecting to the promotion and funding of abortion through the AIDS Relief program.

Signatories wrote, “The American people do not support using taxpayer dollars to fund abortion at home or abroad. For that reason, there exists longstanding precedent not to fund abortion, directly or indirectly, through U.S. foreign assistance. We are concerned that grants from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) are used by nongovernmental organizations that promote abortions and push a radical gender ideology abroad. We urge you to ensure that any reauthorization of PEPFAR ensures that taxpayer money is not used for such purposes.”

“Since President Reagan first instituted the Mexico City Policy in 1984, it has been the policy of the United States that taxpayer funds should not be used to perform or promote abortion abroad. It is imperative that a similar policy be applied to PEPFAR so that no grantees or subgrantees are using taxpayer funds to promote a radical sexual and reproductive health agenda.”