Acting Administrator John Barsa’s Remarks at the 2020 Values Voter Summit

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Hi, I’m John Barsa, Acting Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

It’s an honor to be here with you. I want to give a special thanks to Tony Perkins for his leadership on so many issues that are near and dear to all Americans.

Today, I want to tell you about how USAID is advancing international religious freedom and protecting the sanctity of life.

The President and Vice President have made promoting religious freedom abroad a top priority for this Administration. President Trump recognizes that religious freedom is our first freedom, and we at USAID are fully committed to protecting it.

Nowhere is this commitment better illustrated than our historic decision to provide assistance to Christians and Yazidis in Iraq, who fell victim to acts of genocide by ISIS. So far, USAID has provided more than $400 million to help revitalize these communities. Our hope is that these displaced communities will be able to return, rebuild, and flourish in their ancient homelands.

As an affirmation of our progress in Iraq, President Trump recently signed a historic executive order that mandates USAID develop strategies and programs to help persecuted communities across the globe.

In particular, we’re continuing to provide aid to the Rohingya in Burma, who face intense violence and ethnic cleansing.

We’re looking closely at ways to help Christians in Nigeria who are persecuted by radical Islamist groups.

And we’ll always be a voice against the Chinese Communist Party who bans Bibles, torches churches, imprisons over a million Muslims, and forces abortions and sterilization on Uighur mothers.

This work won’t stop until all people are free to exercise their right to worship. As Americans, we are fully committed to defending people of all faith, and will never tire of defending human life. We believe that every child is a sacred gift from God.

And as one of his first actions, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum preventing American taxpayers from subsidizing abortion through our foreign assistance.

This policy requires foreign NGOs that receive our funding to agree they will not perform or actively promote abortion. Many say that this will cause a disruption in vital health care for women and children, but that has not been the case. Implementing this policy has not reduced USAID’s global health assistance funding levels by One. Single. Penny.

I’m proud of the work we are doing to protect life around the world.

In May, I wrote to the United Nations Secretary-General to underscore our concerns about the UN’s response plan for the COVID-19 pandemic. In that, I urged the UN to remain focused on delivering lifesaving aid and not promoting abortion. As the largest contributor to the UN, we have a vital interest in seeing its plans, strategies, and policies implemented effectively.

Putting “America First” is the foundation of the President’s foreign policy, and sovereignty must be protected from globalist overreach.

The UN claims it hasn’t actively promoted abortion during the COVID crisis. Yet, in July, several UN officials sent a note to the Trump Administration voicing concerns about U.S. restrictions on abortion in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will not stand for this, and countering this agenda protects both U.S. sovereignty and the sovereignty of other nations.

President Trump is the most pro-life President in U.S. history, and I am proud to serve in his Administration.

Thank you for providing me the honor of speaking today and for raising your collective voice on these important issues.

Last updated: January 15, 2021

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