A negative score from groups accusing PEPFAR of supporting abortion threatens the program’s five-year renewal.
The President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief, or PEPFAR, has been a uniquely successful bipartisan effort, saving 25 million lives globally from HIV/AIDS since it was put into place 20 years ago. Congress and the White House have reauthorized it every five years, under different parties. It has been credited with sparing entire countries from demise.
Now it is in danger of succumbing to a political brawl.
The program must be renewed this fall. But domestic pro-life organizations, including Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America and The Heritage Foundation’s action arm, Heritage Action, have said a vote in favor of PEPFAR’s five-year reauthorization would be a mark against a lawmaker in their scorecards for elected leaders. The Family Research Council told CT it will also score the vote.
The groups argue that the Biden administration is trying to use the program to fund the promotion and provision of abortions. Family Research Council’s vice president for policy and government affairs Travis Weber told CT that PEPFAR was “being used as a massive slush fund for abortion and LGBT advocacy.”
Pro-lifers working to combat HIV/AIDS overseas say that is not the case and have been surprised by the domestic pro-life opposition. Funding or promoting abortion through PEPFAR would be against US law. Abortion is also illegal or highly restricted in most countries with PEPFAR-funded programs, almost all of which are in Africa.
Pro-life organizations regularly score lawmakers’ votes on particular pieces of legislation as a way of assessing commitment to pro-life causes. Deeming a vote for a given measure as negative tends to scotch Republican votes for it.
“A five-year reauthorization to us is beyond …