Congressman: Biden Is ‘Hijacking’ AIDS Relief Program to Push Abortion on Africa
A congressman is sounding the alarm on the Biden administration “reimagining” the PEPFAR AIDS relief program for Africa to include funding for abortion.
The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was launched by President George W. Bush in 2003 with the purpose of providing funding for lifesaving medical care for African nations to fight the AIDS epidemic. The program is credited with saving over 25 million lives as a result of the U.S. government’s $100 billion investment over the last 20 years.
But under the Biden administration, lawmakers are warning that PEPFAR is undergoing a fundamental overhaul to include funding for abortion and other highly controversial practices, which the program was never originally intended to fund.
“Not only are they … planning on doing it, they’re already doing it,” Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) explained on Thursday’s edition of “Washington Watch.” “President Biden has hijacked [President Bush’s] Emergency Plan for Aids Relief. … [T]here was a consensus — Right, Left, middle — that providing life-saving medicines and interventions to prevent AIDS in the first place is a very noble goal and it needs to be done. That said, what Biden has done, he has now said that abortion promotion and performance is integrated with all of our HIV/AIDS work overseas. So we’re targeting African countries primarily, but there are some others who get our foreign aid. We’re talking $6 billion a year, $30 billion over five years.”
In a document entitled “Reimagining PEPFAR’s Strategic Direction” released by the Biden administration last September, it describes how the program will “integrate HIV programming into strengthened public health systems to manage … local health priorities,” which include “sexual reproductive health.”
“‘Reimagining’ means radically changing PEPFAR from what it was before under the Trump administration,” Smith pointed out. “[Under] Trump, we had what we call the Mexico City Policy so that any grantee, foreign non-governmental organization, for example, or sub-recipient of this fund — $6 billion a year — cannot promote or perform abortions. It was working. We were getting money to those who were very focused on what their goal is, and that is to end HIV/AIDS [and] prevent mother to child transmission, but not create an additional class of victims by funding abortion.”
In a letter to his congressional colleagues this week, Smith noted that two groups, Population Services International (PSI) and Village Reach, “have received $96.5 million and $10.1 million, respectively, over the last few years from PEPFAR under Biden, and both groups have a track record of pushing abortion.”
Smith wrote that “PSI proudly proclaims it provides abortion and lobbies to eliminate pro-life laws. PSI provides comprehensive abortion and post-abortion care services in nearly 20 countries throughout the world.” He also alleged that Village Reach used PEPFAR funds “to promote abortion in Malawi and lobby for changes in pro-life laws” and also “helped Malawi establish a government-funded hotline (that included providing information and referrals for ‘sexual and reproductive health,’ i.e., abortion).”
Still, a White House staffer claimed this week that abortion funding in PEPFAR was “a false narrative” and a “disinformation campaign.”
“The effort to keep abortion tucked away in PEPFAR is the latest example of how progressives hijack every institution and agency to advance harmful social policies,” Arielle Del Turco, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council, told The Washington Stand. “PEPFAR was created to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic, but instead of keeping it focused on its bipartisan and important goals, bureaucrats direct millions of dollars toward organizations that promote abortion. Democrats know they couldn’t pass a bill to do this, so they slip it into existing U.S. government programs. PEPFAR should remain focused on saving lives, not taking vulnerable unborn lives.”
In addition to abortion, the Biden administration also appears to be using PEPFAR funds to push gender identity and sexual ideologies, mirroring the strategy of its foreign policy. In its PEPFAR “Strategic Direction” document, the administration states that it plans to “Leverage the very best of American ingenuity” to develop “programs” for “gender equality, LGBTQI+, and human rights.”
“The Biden administration seems downright obsessed with pushing abortion and gender ideology on the world,” Travis Weber, vice president for Policy and Government Affairs at Family Research Council, told TWS. “At a time when we are confronting multiple challenges to U.S. interests worldwide, including a rising China, the administration is instead spending U.S. resources on an ideological crusade that is insulting and alienating potential partners and allies. This administration’s push for abortion and gender ideology globally is the very definition of shooting yourself in the foot.”
The administration’s widening of PEPFAR’s mandate to include gender ideology and abortion fits an overall pattern of the activity of international governing bodies, Smith argued on “Washington Watch.”
“[T]his is in concert with UNAIDS. Eleven different organizations make up UNAIDS, including the World Health Organization [WHO], UNICEF, [and] all the other groups that are promoting abortion around the world at the U.N. The U.N. has become radicalized over the last several years, and now it’s getting even worse. WHO has put out a call to action to attain universal health coverage through linked sexual and reproductive health and rights and HIV interventions. So now they want every country to have a universal health care plan that has embedded in it abortion on demand paid for by the government and HIV/AIDS work.”
“They have hijacked a great program and [are turning] it into an abortion promoting program, and the Africans don’t want it,” Smith emphasized. He went on to promise a strong challenge to the “reimagined” program’s funding through Congress’s appropriations process.
“What the Biden administration is doing [is] outrageous, and we’re not going to allow [it]. I’m going to fight it very hard.”
Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.