New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff today severely criticized President George Bush for policies his administration has pushed that are having a negative impact on the lives and health of women worldwide. Most notably, Kristoff critiqued Bush’s refusal to release a promised $34 million to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) because Bush objects to China’s one-child policy – a policy that the UNFPA does not support.
In fact, US funding for the UNFPA can never be spent on family planning programs in China. A clause in the House Appropriations bill each year stipulates that US taxpayer money cannot be spent on UNFPA programs in China at all, and the 1973 Helms amendment explicitly prohibits US funding from being directly spent on abortion, according to the US Agency for International Development.
Kristoff also disparages the Bush administration’s refusal to support the Convention to End all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which supports women’s equality and rights worldwide, and his reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule, which prohibits US funds from going toward any organization abroad that even mentions abortion.
Kristoff points to the dire statistics about the state of women and children’s health worldwide — 500,000 women die each year in pregnancy or childbirth; 100 million women and girls worldwide are “missing” due to sex-selective abortion, female infanticide, and lack of clean water and proper nutrition; 60 percent of the children kept out of elementary school are girls; 130 million girls have undergone genital mutilation; and 1-2 million girls and women are forced into sex trafficking each year.
Kristoff notes that “the Bush administration is allying the U.S. with the likes of Iran, Sudan, and Syria to frustrate international efforts to save the lives of some of the most helpless people on earth. Somehow we have become the core of an Axis of Medieval.”