A massive effort organized by a broad-based coalition of women’s rights and health organizations, environmentalists, HIV/AIDS organizations, and religious organizations joined together to call President Bush today to demand that he reinstate critical funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The Bush Administration will be making its final decision whether to fund or not fund the UNFPA this Thursday.
Last week, several women’s health organizations called on the Bush Administration to re-fund foreign organizations that provide abortion services and counseling. The groups also demanded that the Administration provide the promised funds of $8 billion for family planning in developing countries that the United States promised during the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development that took place in Cairo, Egypt.
On Friday, during a House Appropriations Committee hearing, Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) offered an amendment for $25 million for the United Nations Population Fund that was defeated on a vote of 26 to 32. The Lowey-Kirk Amendment ensures that the United States support certain countries that have critical need for family planning services and that also have national security implications, such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
President Bush officially withheld $34 million in funds for the UNFPA in 2002 based on unsubstantial claims by the right-wing group Population Research International (PRI) that the UNFPA supports forced abortions in China. Despite the fact that Bush’s own handpicked investigative team found no evidence to back PRI’s claim, Bush still would not release the funds to the UNFPA.