Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi: Bush Administration Denies Vital Health Care for Poor Women by Withholding International Family Planning Money

July 23, 2002

Washington, D.C. -- House Democrats held a news conference this morning to express their strong opposition to the Bush Administration's decision to withhold $34 million in international family planning funds from United Nation's Population Fund. The following is a statement from Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):

"Who would have thought that in the 21st Century, we would be turning back the clock on human rights for the poorest women of the world? Yet now we are seeing the poorest women on this planet being held hostage to the extreme elements in the Republican Party.

U.S. assistance for family planning and reproductive health allows women in the poorest countries access to critical health services. The results are clear: lower rates of infant and child mortality, decreased maternal mortality, and fewer abortions. Unfortunately, the organizations that administer family planning services are under unfair and constant attack.

Last December, Congress voted 357 to 66 to provide $34 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The President signed this bipartisan compromise on January 10.

Yet the Administration is refusing to release this funding appropriated by Congress, claiming that UNFPA supports coercive family planning practices in China. Those charges have now been proven false by the three-person team appointed by the Administration that just returned from China. The Administration’s own report clearly states: " We find no evidence that UNFPA has knowingly supported or participated in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in [China].”

UNFPA provides life-saving safe motherhood and family planning services to poor women in developing countries and refugee situations around the world. It does not provide abortion services.

Without U.S. funds, UNFPA has been forced to cut programs and personnel. For instance, UNFPA is cutting plans to provide delivery services in remote villages in India, and will scale back plans to expand a program run with the Catholic Church in Kenya to provide peer counseling for adolescents, parents and priests to prevent teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

Each year, 600,000 women die of pregnancy related causes - more than one woman every minute of the day. The decision to withhold funds will result in more unintended pregnancies, more births, more maternal deaths and injuries, and more -- not fewer -- abortions.

Under the leadership of the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee, Congresswoman Nita Lowey of New York, we will continue to fight to restore this funding."