I believe that we, as Members of Congress, must do everything in our power to provide contraceptives to those in the developing world.  Yesterday, I voted in support of an amendment to the FY08 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill modifying the existing Global Gag Rule Policy.  The Global Gag Rule prohibits the granting of U.S. funds to any overseas health clinic or organization unless it agrees not to provide abortion services, advocacy, counseling or referrals, even with private funding. The global gag rule is an abomination, and we must continue to fight for its removal.

The language passed by the House yesterday will permit contraceptives to be provided to international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). The goal of this measure is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, abortions, and the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.  However, lawmakers against contraception were determined to strip this language from the bill.  Keeping this language in the appropriations measure is a critical step in increasing global stability and providing resources to strengthen the health crisis worldwide.  We have an obligation to speak out when it comes to matters of human rights.

The underlying appropriations bill also provides funding to fight HIV/AIDS in countries around the world.  According to the United Nations, 2.9 million people died of AIDS in 2006. Worldwide, more than 39.5 million people are living with HIV. The State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill provides $5.1 billion for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care programs including $550 million for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

The legislation also provides $210.5 million for critical humanitarian and peacekeeping programs in Darfur -- 90 percent more funding than the President requested. The genocide in Darfur has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced more than 2.5 million people since the crisis began in 2003.

As one of the most powerful countries in the world, the United States has a moral responsibility to help fight HIV/AIDS and provide necessary humanitarian aid to the region of Darfur.  I am concerned about human rights and support investing in treatment, prevention and care for those with HIV/AIDS to help solve this global health crisis.  America cannot sit silent.  This funding will help provide many people around the world with lifesaving services, improve their quality of life, and ultimately work toward ending these crises.