NEWS IN CONTEXT
Bush Administration Withholds UNFPA Funding for Seventh Year
June 27, 2008
On June 26, the Bush administration—for the last time before it is replaced by a new administration in January 2009—made a formal "determination" that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is ineligible, under a longstanding federal anticoercion law, for the $39.7 million that Congress had set aside for it. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte sent a letter to Congress asserting that UNFPA supports China's coercive abortion policies.
The action was predictable. President Bush first blocked a U.S. contribution to UNFPA in 2002 under the 1985 Kemp-Kasten Amendment, which prohibits U.S. foreign aid for any organization that the President determines “supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.”
Both the Reagan and Bush I administrations interpreted the law to mean that UNFPA was ineligible for funding simply because it was working in China, despite findings clearing UNFPA of involvement in any coercive practices. The Clinton administration reversed its predecessors’ determination in 1993, thereby making funding available to UNFPA. The Bush administration did likewise in 2001, its first year in office, before reversing itself in 2002 to block funding.
The latest action brings to about $235 million the total amount the Bush administration has withheld from UNFPA since 2002. It will be up to the next administration, which takes office in January 2009, to determine whether the United States will resume making an annual contribution to UNFPA.
UNFPA operates in more than 150 poor countries, but does not provide or pay for abortion services in any of them. Instead, UNFPA works to reduce the need for abortion by promoting voluntary family planning.
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