Women’s groups on the Left would love for you to think that because they oppose increased funding to the United Nations Population Fund (in an amendment sponsored by Reps. Chris Smith, Jim Oberstar, and Henry Hyde) pro-lifers want to kill aid to women and children. Not so. In a not-unfamiliar occurrence, the conventional spin is simply not true.
In what is likely to be a close vote, the House of Representatives will vote Tuesday afternoon on $50 million each year for two years ($100 million total) to the UNFPA in the State Department authorization bill (HR 1950).
The record on who wants money going to women and children is a little less black and white than the predominant spin would have it. Rather than go to the UNFPA, which has-according to the State Department-violated U.S. law by funding coercive population programs, the administration transferred $34 million from the UNFPA to the Child Survival and Health Programs Fund in September. The money would have been used, in the transfer scenario, to provide for basic health needs of women and children in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which both have high infant mortality and maternal death rates. When USAID asked Congress to authorize the money transfer, the next step in the process, a hold was put on it (reportedly by Vermont Democrat Sen. Patrick Leahy). That money went nowhere.
In an amendment sponsored by New York Democrat Rep. Joseph Crowley, members would send the money to the UNFPA, and do so under a gutted version of Reagan-era law that forbade U.S. money from funding coercive population-control programs. In the new language, the U.S. UNFPA would only be prohibited from “directly” funding coercion, meaning, as the amendment defines it, “knowingly and intentionally working with a purpose to continue, advance, or expand the practice of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization, or playing a primary and essential role in a coercive or voluntary aspect of a country’s family planning program.” Not exactly easy to determine.
In a report issued earlier this year, the State Department found that forced abortion and sterilization policies exist in 32 countries where the UNFPA has operations. Questions are raised annual by the State Department and private groups about the extent of UNFPA involvement with some of those programs.
Planned Parenthood wants the money in question to go to UNFPA because “because it is the single largest global source of multilateral funding for maternal health and family planning programs, providing desperately needed health care services to poor women and their families in 150 countries.” You’ve gotta wonder though: Why is taxpayer money in our hands, distributed under our laws, not better than handing it over to an organization that has a record of a laissez-faire approach to tyrannical regimes and their coercive, truly anti-women policies? Do they really believe they have more to fear from George W. Bush and pro-life conservatives than the women of China, or other authoritarian human-rights violators do from their regimes? One hopes, at least, members of Congress can see more clearly than that.