Chinese whispers. (Letters).
The UNFPA assists developing countries, at their request, to address reproductive health and population issues and is a leader in the renewed commitment of the world community to stabilize global population and improve the status of women. Yet, President Bush ignored his own secretary of state, the will of Congress, and his own fact-finding team when he defunded UNFPA by $34 million, relying on a single, right-wing fringe group for its policy determination.
In March 2003, we recognized International Women's Day by bringing experts from around the world to discuss the impact of this administration's policies on their ability to provide essential reproductive health services to women and their families. Rather than celebrate, we were reminded that many women do not have access to the care they need and deserve, in large part due to the restrictive policies imposed by this administration. It is clear that President Bush has taken our domestic fight on choice and has exported it to women around the world--people who cannot vote him out of office for threatening their very basic rights.
In response to his actions, I have introduced HR 1196, a bill that will provide a United States voluntary contribution to the United Nations Population Fund, $50 million in 2003, and $84 million in 2004. Additional information on HR 1196 can be found on my website, www.house.gov/maloney.
CAROLYN B. MALONEY Member of the US Congress for New York
JENNIFER BERNSTEIN PERCEPTIVELY dissects the campaign by opponents of family planning and their ideological allies within the Bush administration to end the US contribution to the UNFPA.
The complete dismissal of the findings of the State Department's own impartial China fact-finding mission--and the unquestioning reliance of the White House on the rantings of unabashed foes of contraception at the Population Research Institute--clearly demonstrates the lengths to which the president and some of his advisors were prepared to go to solidify his standing with his right-wing constituency in defunding UNFPA.
As a result of the inconvenient conclusions of its China investigating team--that found "no evidence that UNFVA has knowingly supported or participated in the management of a program of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization" in China--the State Department was compelled by its political masters to employ an expansive interpretation of the so--called Kemp-Kasten amendment to justify cutting off funds to UNFPA.
Under this tortured logic, any recipient of US funds would disqualify themselves if they cooperated with Chinese government institutions judged by them to be involved in the enforcement of the "one-child" policy. Many of these same institutions have ongoing relationships with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, and even US government agencies like the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. None has lost its US funding.
The disparate treatment of UNFPA relative to other multilateral and US organizations illustrates unmistakably that the goal all along was to find a way to cut Off UNFPA, and China was just the pretext. And once again the women of the world are the losers in the White House's political calculations.
CRAIG LASHER Senior Policy Analyst Population Action International Washington, DC
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|Article Type:||Letter to the Editor|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2003|
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