Will White House Women’s Initiative be Hijacked by Abortion and Gender Advocates?

WASHINGTON DC, July 19 (C-Fam) Democratic Congresswoman Lois Frankel spoiled the White House plans for a controversy-free event last week when she took to the podium and said women can’t be empowered without contraception and abortion. Adding to the insult was the fact that Ivanka Trump had worked hard to brand the White House’s new Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative as a uniquely bipartisan initiative.

“It’s not enough to promote women’s entrepreneurship and access to financial markets. We must recognize, for true equality and empowerment, women must have control over their own bodies. And yes, that means access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health,” Frankel said. Her comments were the last word at the event at the Ronald Reagan building last week.

Since coming to the White House, Ivanka Trump has worked across the political aisle to bring lawmakers together on the issue of women’s economic empowerment. Ensuring the integrity of her initiative is fraught with challenges. Frankel’s remarks are part of an ongoing effort to insert abortion into her work, and to ridicule Trump for trying to keep women’s issues free of controversy. Frankel demonstrated Democrats will continue to try to get the initiative’s funding siphoned into the already bloated abortion industry.

At last week’s event, Ivanka Trump and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Mark Green announced the first round of funding under the new initiative — $27M directed to 14 projects in 22 countries. The projects will help more than 100,000 women with an additional $260M committed through public and private sector partners. Most of projects are to benefit women in Africa and Southeast Asia.

Frankel’s statement renewed fears that faith-based groups may be ineligible to compete for economic empowerment grants awarded through USAID due to the criteria required in current USAID gender policies. The policies, adopted under the Obama administration, include controversial language on abortion such as “sexual and reproductive health.”

This tension was first revealed when Congress passed the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act (WEEE Act) last winter.  That Act mandated controversial Obama-era gender policies and programs.

Frankel was a driving force behind the WEEE Act, a bi-partisan bill she co-authored. However, she was able to hold the White House hostage, threatening to withdraw Democrat support if the controversial gender requirements were omitted.

At the time, conservative groups cautioned Republicans that redrafting such language was necessary to protect faith-based groups and ensure controversial issues like abortion could never be advanced in the bill.

With the same concern, Republican Senators placed a hold on the WEEE Act until the White House assured them that USAID would revise the policies. With White House assurance, the Senate supported the legislation without conscience protections or pro-life riders. The policies have yet to be re-written, and Frankel’s remarks have reawakened concerns about the Obama-era policies.

The new initiative has initial funding of $50M with President Trump requesting an additional $100M from Congress in his 2020 budget. The initiative seeks to help 50 million women over the next 6 years.