Ten Republican representatives have written to the director of the U.S. Agency for International Development, asking him to rescind $65 million awarded last week for HIV/AIDS programs to the Population Council, a nonprofit health and social science research organization, and instead direct the money to an organization that "does not support or perform abortions." The letter says that funding the Population Council violates the Bush administration's policy prohibiting tax dollars from going to international groups that provide abortion services. Because the Population Council holds a patent on the abortion pill mifepristone, also known as RU-486, the lawmakers claim the agency is a "promoter and provider" of abortion. Although all of the money in question goes specifically to HIV/AIDS prevention programs, the conservative lawmakers still insist that the funds not be allocated to the Population Council.
The letter also asks USAID to provide a breakdown of the amount of its funds that are used to "fund or promote" research or implementation of international abstinence-only programs. The lawmakers are "extremely disappointed" that the Population Council's Horizons HIV prevention programs include information on condom use and do not recommend abstinence.
The letter was signed by Reps. Christopher Smith of New Jersey, Jo Ann Davis of Virginia, Joseph Pitts of Pennsylvania, Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Mark Souder of Indiana, Sue Myrick of North Carolina, David Vitter of Louisiana, John Sullivan of Oklahoma, and Todd Akin of Missouri.