The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is the leading global agency providing voluntary family planning, pregnancy, and delivery care to some of the world's poorest and most vulnerable people. Since its founding in 1969, UNFPA has provided nearly $6 billion in assistance to developing countries.
In January 2002 the Bush Administration announced its intention to freeze $34 million in United States funding for UNFPA, amidst allegations from anti-abortion, anti-family planning groups that UNFPA was complicit in coercive population control measures in China. A three-member investigatory team appointed by President Bush discovered "no evidence that UNFPA has knowingly supported or participated in the management of a program of coercive abortion or forced sterilization in [China]," and recommended the U.S. funding be released.
Despite these findings, President Bush used an arcane executive privilege measure called the Kemp-Kasten Amendment to cut off funding to UNFPA. Bush justified the move on the basis of misleading evidence provided by a single anti-family planning group that the agency was indirectly contributing to forced abortion and involuntary sterilization measures in China by providing the Chinese government with computer equipment.
Senate leaders were able to restore $34 million to UNFPA in the 2005 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill despite President Bush's warning that he would continue to withhold the funds.
The work UNFPA does to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS, combat violence against women, and help families plan and space their pregnancies is desperately needed. Worldwide, 230 million women - more than 1 in 6 women of reproductive age - do not have information or access to safe and reliable contraceptive methods, contributing to the more than 80 million pregnancies each year that are unwanted or unplanned.
The $69 million appropriated to UNFPA by a bipartisan Congress over the past two years, but withheld by the Administration, could have prevented four million unwanted pregnancies, 9,400 maternal deaths, and a staggering 150,000 infant deaths.
Since 1985, United States law has prohibited any United States funding from going to UNFPA programs in China, going so far as to require that UNFPA keep the United States' contribution in a separate account. Cutting all funding for UNFPA harms women in the 141 other countries in which UNFPA programs are run, while doing nothing to help victims of China's population practices.
It is almost certain that anti-family planning legislators will attempt to gut UNFPA funding when the State Department Authorization bill comes to the floor of the House of Representatives. NAF urges Congress to ensure that UNFPA receive its full U.S. appropriation. It is imperative that the United States fulfill its international obligation and continue to fund the lifesaving work of UNFPA.