Millions of girls are forced into child marriages around the world, sometimes with men over twice their age. In developing countries, child marriage is an incredible problem, with girls' physical and emotional health being endangered by this dangerous practice. From missing out on education to dangerous childbirth at a young age, girls in developing countries are especially at risk because of child marriage.
On December 16th, the House of Representatives failed to pass a bill protecting young girls from the consequences of child marriage--even though the bill passed with unanimous support in the Senate.
The bill would have authorized the President and the Secretary of State to implement programs in developing countries to reduce the rates of child marriage and protect girls against the effects of the practice.
With 112 co-sponsors in the House and unanimous support in the Senate, why did the bill fail at the last minute? Anti-choice House Republicans including Reps. John Boehner and Eric Cantor circulated a memo to other anti-choice Members of Congress, telling them that the bill would fund abortions and "overturn pro-life laws," urging them to oppose the bill, even though it had unanimous Republican support in the Senate.
But, if you look at the bill (all ten pages of it), the words abortion or family planning are never used. The bill's sole purpose is to save young girls from the physical and emotional effects of child marriage. The bill doesn't even appropriate funding--it simply would include measures to curb child marriage in existing development work by the Administration.
Members of the House on both sides of the aisle that voted against this bill need to be held accountable. The public needs to know exactly who would not take a stand against child marriage just because the anti-choice lobby said so.
This bill had unanimous Republican support in the Senate; and even in the next Republican-controlled session of the House, the bill should be brought up for a vote and passed. It is in the interest of young girls everywhere for this bill to pass and for the United States to invest in programs reducing the rates of child marriage in developing countries.
Tell House members that voted against the bill that their refusal to take a stand against child marriage is an outrage, and that they must bring the bill up for a vote again to protect girls around the world.
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