At a recent conference in London, leading reproductive health and family planning organizations sharply criticized the Bush administration’s current policies for contributing to the AIDS epidemic, thousands of unwanted pregnancies, and the deaths of women during childbirth and from unsafe abortion. According to the Associated Press, representatives at the Countdown 2015 conference also attacked the Administration’s promotion of abstinence only programs to prevent HIV/AIDS and the blockage of funding for three years for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Over 700 representatives from 109 countries assessed the progress towards goals set during the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, Egypt, reports the LA Times. The Cairo conference called on governments to provide $17 billion a year by 2000, however only $9.6 billion was spent in 2001.
Tim Wirth, the President of the United Nations Foundation, asserted “as the US attacks the efficacy of condoms, as the US refused to put its shoulder behind making sure that women have the ability to protect themselves, it is becoming responsible in effect for the deaths of tens of thousands, in fact of millions, of women.” For example, while an overwhelming majority (74-84%) of couples in industrialized countries use modern forms of birth control, only 10% of couples in sub-Saharan Africa use birth control, reports the Associated Press.
On his first day in office, President Bush officially withheld $34 million in funds for the UNFPA in 2002 based on unsubstantiated claims by the right-wing group Population Research International (PRI) that the UNFPA supports forced abortions in China. Even though President Bush sent his own handpicked investigative team that found no evidence to back PRI’s claim, he has blocked desperately needed funding for the UNFPA for three years.