By Kathleen Gilbert
WASHINGTON, D.C., September 29, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Senate committee markup of a $1 billion bill pro-life leaders say they fear could become an engine for more abortion funding overseas has been postponed.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee office confirmed to LifeSiteNews.com Wednesday afternoon that the meeting in which IVAWA was to be discussed had been postponed from its original slot at 2:15pm Wednesday, but not yet rescheduled. The vote may wait until after the Senate goes on recess, which a committee spokesperson indicated may happen as early as Wednesday evening.
An inquiry placed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office was not returned as of press time Wednesday.
While winning praise for ostensibly aiding vulnerable women, the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA) has conservatives alarmed that it provides a setup for funding abortion advocacy groups around the world.
Pro-life sources on Capitol Hill had warned that the measure could easily by hijacked by pro-abortion forces, particularly as the bill authorizes Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, an ardent abortion proponent, to appoint an “Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues” to allocate funds for IVAWA programs.
The bill also tasks the ambassador with leading “gender integration and women's development internationally as relates to prevention and response.” Another section specifies “enhancing the capacity of the health sector” to respond to violence as a “prevention and response” activity.
The bill uses broad language that often includes abortion advocacy: for example, the bill calls for the U.S. government to support “community programs” and other programs abroad “to achieve the Millenium Development Goals and United States global health and development objectives.”
In a 2009 House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Secretary Clinton said that the Obama administration “will protect the rights of women, including their rights to reproductive health care,” and confirmed that the administration's definition of “reproductive health” includes abortion. One of two primary goals listed under Millennium Development Goal 5 is to “achieve, by 2015, universal access to reproductive health.”
The bill is sponsored by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), who is steadily pro-abortion, and co-sponsored by several more top pro-abortion senators including Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL). The only Republican co-sponsors are senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, both pro-abortion.
The bill calls for over $1 billion over five years to fund the new office and its activities, including $40 million earmarked for donation to the United Nations Development Fund for Women. No part of the bill precludes abortion groups from receiving funding.
Several pro-life groups have called for pro-life citizens to contact their senators and urge them to include a provision in the bill to keep federal tax dollars from funding organizations advancing a pro-abortion agenda.
“Women around the world deserve to be protected against violence – including women in the womb,” wrote Americans United for Life president Charmaine Yoest in an email to members.
Conservative legal expert Phyllis Schlafly called the scope of powers allocated to the “czar over worldwide women's issues” “breath-taking,” and criticized its liberal agenda.
“Does anyone dare to think that the State Department report will call for stopping the violence against women committed by mandatory abortions to carry out a government's one-child policy? Or report on sex-selective abortions to kill unborn girl babies because parents prefer a boy baby?” wrote Schlafly.