In an effort to deny critical funds to international family planning organizations, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and his allies in Congress want the American people to believe that U.S. dollars are spent to perform and promote abortions abroad. This is not true. Federal law bans using U.S. funds for abortions. International family planning programs use the U.S. aid they receive to provide contraception and related health services that prevent unintended pregnancies and reduce the need for abortion.
The reproductive health of millions of women and families around the world is being sacrificed by legislators who oppose family planning. They give incomplete information to voters to promote their position.If enacted, the bill currently before Congress would prevent foreign nongovernmental organizations from using their own money to communicate with their own governments. Such censorship is in opposition to the deeply held American values of free speech and democracy. This "global gag rule" would export a policy that is unconstitutional in our own country. It would also severely undermine established, successful family planning programs that have already significantly improved the lives and welfare of millions.
I am disappointed that our elected officials continue to play political games with the health of the world's women and their families. I urge Rep. Cook to send a strong message to Congress that he supports family planning and to vote against any bill that contains a global gag rule.
Sonja E. Chesley
Salt Lake City