US Freeze Forces UNFPA Cuts

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has been forced to cut new programs and staff because of under-funding experienced after the Bush Administration froze $34 million appropriated for UNFPA by Congress. According to UNFPA spokesperson Stirling Scruggs, the U.S. hold “could mean 2 million unwanted pregnancies, 800,000 induced abortions, 4,700 maternal deaths, and 77,000 infant and child deaths.” The U.S. is the largest contributor to the UNFPA, representing about 13 percent of the agency’s 2002 budget. U.S. funding is especially crucial this year as Japan and Denmark have both reduced their UNFPA donations.

The Bush Administration withheld the UNFPA funds after anti-choice Congressman Christopher Smith (R-NJ), chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus, alleged that the agency was supporting forced abortion and sterilization in China. This accusation originated with the Population Research Institute, an organization founded by Human Life International, an anti-abortion organization that aligns itself with the Roman Catholic Church. UNFPA has denied that it funds any programs that perform forced procedures and does not use any U.S. funds for its programs in China. The agency also agreed in January 2002 to be subject to a fact-finding mission in China organized by the Bush Administration to investigate the allegations. The mission, however, has not yet been organized, nor has a fact-finding delegation been formed. Meanwhile, thousands of women will go without critically needed family planning services.

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New York Times, 4/7/02; Feminist Daily News Wire

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