US House eliminates $100 million earmarked for UN Population Fund
Washington, D.C. - 7/17/03 - In a stinging defeat for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the US House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to remove all $100 million in proposed funding for UNFPA from the US foreign aid bill, despite a massive lobbying campaign carried out on Capitol Hill by UNFPA's American allies.
The House vote was extremely close, 216-211, but still appears to show a significant shift in opinion regarding the legitimacy of UNFPA. The last full House vote on UNFPA was in 1999, during which UNFPA received a majority of support, 221 to 198.
According to Representative Christopher Smith (R-NJ), a co-sponsor of the amendment to remove the UNFPA funding, continuing revelations of UNFPA's involvement in coercive population control programs, especially in China, have undermined US political support for the agency. Speaking during debate this week, Smith asserted, "since 1979, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has been the chief apologist for China's coercive one-child-per-couple policy...the women of China are being oppressed with great impunity by their government."
Smith continued, "This debate is all about coercion. I would hope that my friends who support abortion would realize that coercion, whether it be forced sterilization or forced abortion, is an unconscionable act; and when it is done with impunity by the Chinese government with their partner, the UN Population Fund, we need to disassociate ourselves from that kind of activity....I would hope that we would stand with the women of China who are being oppressed by their government and with their partners in these crimes against humanity, the UN Population Fund."
In July, 2002, President Bush decided to withhold $34 million from UNFPA because of its ties to coercion. In order to render UNFPA eligible for renewed US funding, the House International Relations Committee in May attempted to weaken a long-standing US human rights law, called the Kemp-Kasten amendment, that forbids US support for coercive population control programs. 22 Democrats and 1 Republican voted for an amendment proposed by Joseph Crowley (D-NY) that sought to create a legal distinction between direct and indirect support for coercion. According to the Crowley amendment, only "direct" support for coercion would remain illegal. Since UNFPA does not carry out the coercion in China, itself, UNFPA should therefore receive the $100 million. This legal maneuvering did not prove convincing to the full House on Tuesday.
When President Bush announced his 2002 decision against UNFPA, he was roundly condemned on editorial pages for being "anti-women." However, UNFPA and its allies have so far remained silent about Tuesday's House vote. UNFPA has yet to publicly acknowledge the decision, even though it represents a potentially crippling blow to the agency's finances.
UNFPA's pro-abortion supporters in the House are expected to maintain their fight to refund the beleaguered agency.
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