Feb. 6, 2015 – A group of US senators is urging President Obama to continue funding the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) as the threat of Republican-controlled legislatures pulling funds for the agency looms.
The Republican Party won significant gains in the house and senate in the midterm elections and US funding for UN climate and population programs are under threat. Under President George W. Bush, the US withheld funds for the UNFPA claiming in part that the agency supported Chinese government programs which include forced abortions and coercive sterilizations.
The 22 senators, including Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein and Kirsten Gillibrand, in a Jan. 27 letter, wrote that “U.S. funding for UNFPA supports a range of global activities including the provision of voluntary family planning information, education and services, training and deployment of skilled birth attendants and midwives, and work to help end the harmful practices of female genital mutilation and child marriage.”
“We are disappointed that despite UNFPA’s critical work around the world, a number of misperceptions about the organization persist,” the letter added.
On its website, the UNFPA says it “does not promote abortion as a family planning method.”
The US has contributed some $30 million annually to the agency under the Obama administration. From 2001-2008, a total of $244 million in Congressionally approved funding was blocked by the Executive Branch.
The UNFPA receives some $450 million yearly with Sweden ($66M), Norway ($59M), the Netherlands ($49M) and Denmark ($44M) the top donors.
Since the Helms amendment to the foreign aid package in 1973, US foreign aid is prohibited from being used to pay for abortion as a method of family planning “or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions.”
The senators conclude their letter by saying, “support for UNFPA is cost-effective, saves lives and supports our broader diplomatic, development and national security priorities.”
– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz