Interfaith Delegation Urges President Bush To Restore UNFPA Funding
A delegation of nine religious leaders released a report to the White House and the US State Department asking that the United States restore and increase funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) because the UNFPA promotes high quality and voluntary reproductive health care in China. According to PlanetWire, the delegation asked if President Bush would "turn a deaf ear to the voices of leaders of religious and faith-based organizations who are not right-wing."
One member of the delegation stated with confidence that "all of the programs with which UNFPA is currently working are committed to avoiding any practice of forced abortions or involuntary sterilizations," reportsPlanetWire. Other findings the delegation reported are that abortion and sterilization rates are declining as contraceptive choice increases and that the UNFPA has been and remains a major force and a vital catalyst in achieving China's transition to a fully voluntary and non-coercive family planning program.
The Bush administration withdrew $34 million in US funding for the UNFPA last year. Bush made the decision to withhold the funding from the UN organization based on allegations by the right-wing Population Research Institute that UNFPA programs in China support coercive family planning policies. These allegations were denied by the UNFPA as well as a State Department fact-finding team appointed by the President.
The US contribution to the UNFPA makes up 13 percent of the total funding for its international family planning programs - enabling UNFPA to prevent two million unwanted pregnancies, 4,700 maternal deaths, nearly 60,000 cases of maternal illnesses and over 77,000 cases of infant and child death.
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Media Resources: Feminist Daily News Wire; PlanetWire 11/19/03; Agence France Presse 11/19/03