A group of religious leaders who studied the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) family planning work in China said that they found no evidence to back accusations by the administration that the UNFPA supports forced abortions. According to the Associated Press, the group said that they will lobby Washington to end its ban on funding of the UNFPA.
One member of the delegation, according to the Associated Press, asserted that he believes “we can say with some degree of confidence that all the programs with which the UNFPA is currently associated are committed to avoiding any practice of forced abortion or involuntary sterilization.” The group was made up of nine members representing the Muslim, Jewish and Protestant faiths. They visited Beijing and three other provinces and met with health officials, religious groups and non-governmental organizations.
Bush made the decision to withhold the funding from the UN organization based on allegations by the right-wing Population Research Institute that UNFPA programs in China support coercive family planning policies. These allegations were denied by the UNFPA as well as a State Department fact-finding team. The US contribution to the UNFPA makes up 13 percent of the total funding for its international family planning programs – enabling UNFPA to prevent two million unwanted pregnancies, 4,700 maternal deaths, nearly 60,000 cases of maternal illnesses and over 77,000 cases of infant and child death.