More than 350 African church leaders have appealed to Congress for the swift reauthorization of the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which has saved more than 25 million lives since its creation by President George W. Bush 20 years ago. “PEPFAR has been a lifesaving, pro-life program that has succeeded in protecting our families and children beyond our greatest expectations,” the leaders write. “It has been an answer to prayer.”
The signers include leaders of national evangelical alliances and councils of churches, representatives of faith-based hospitals and health ministries, and pastors from diverse denominational backgrounds, including Anglicans, Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals and Presbyterians, in countries from Angola to Zambia. Many of the signers have direct experience partnering with PEPFAR-funded programs.
The World Evangelical Alliance, National Association of Evangelicals and World Relief commend the letter, which directly addresses the concern raised by some members of Congress questioning whether PEPFAR funds have been used to perform or promote abortions:
We assure the United States Congress that the claim that PEPFAR supports or promotes abortion is to us strange, unfounded, and unfortunate. In fact, at regular PEPFAR review meetings, partners are reminded that PEPFAR does not fund certain interventions, including abortions. We urge you not to allow unsubstantiated claims to stand in the way of the United States of America’s continued global leadership in ending HIV/AIDS by 2030.
The leaders also emphasize the importance of a five-year reauthorization that sustains current progress and gives African health systems the confidence to invest in long-term improvements that can effectively end the HIV/AIDS crisis by 2030. They cite PEPFAR as a model global health partnership with far-reaching impact for good, noting its many pro-life achievements: healthy babies born without HIV infection, increased life expectancy and fewer orphans.
The leaders reaffirm their own strong commitment to the right to life for both the unborn and the living. They conclude by expressing their deep gratitude and invoking God’s blessing on the United States and on Africa.