World Population Awareness

I

Funding, Accords, Politics, Legislation

Americans spend, per capita, $1.44 a year each - less than a tube of toothpaste on international population assistance.   October 2010, National Audubon Society doclink
More money is spent on cosmetic sales in the United States than is needed to provide prenatal and reproductive care for all the world's women. Dr. Arsenio Rodriguez speaking at Elon College   March 8, 2001, News & Record (Greensboro, NC) doclink
From the 1960s through the mid-1980s, U.S. funding, scientific expertise, and political leadership helped establish family-planning programs across the globe. Stabilizing population growth was deemed important to promote sustainable development, improve trade, mitigate illegal immigration, and ease potential conflicts.

But after Republicans gained control of Congress in 1994, a small group of antiabortion House members succeeded in slashing U.S. overseas family-planning funds by about one third to the current $385 million a year. U.N. Population Fund Executive Director Nafis Sadik believes the United States will resume its leadership role when congressional opponents come to realize that family planning will reduce the abortions they abhor.   October 11, 1999, US News and World Reports doclink

ICPD Cairo 1994, UNFPA

ICPD (Cairo Convention)

United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) September 1994, Cairo, Egypt

   1999, UNFPA

Delegates from 179 nations and thousands of non-governmental organizations met and came to a consensus on an historic shift in policies to address rapid population growth. The agreed-upon Programme of Action was a departure from setting demographic targets, adopting instead a 20-year plan focused on

1. Empowering women and girls in the economic, political, and social arenas 2. Removing gender disparities in education 3. Integrating family planning with related efforts to improve maternal and child health 4. Increasing efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases 5. Increasing financial and human resources commitments 6. Strengthening cooperation between the public and private sectors in implementing these goals.

The Cairo conference put an end to the concept of "population control." Smaller families and slower population growth depend not on "control" but on free choice - the idea, borne out by 30 years of experience, that most women, given the choice, will have fewer children than their mothers did. UNPFA 1999 doclink

UNFPA Does Not Support Abortion Services Or Information Anywhere

   August 1999

To put the record straight regarding the United Nations Population Fund and abortion, UNFPA does not support abortion services or information anywhere, nor do we provide equipment for performing abortions. The reproductive health and safe motherhood kits provided in Kosovo contain only standard equipment, including vacuum aspirators, which are used to help in delivery.

Women do not want to have abortions; they want not to be pregnant. Every rational observer agrees that helping women avoid unwanted pregnancy is the most effective way to fight abortion. That is what UNFPA does. The human right to choose the size and spacing of the family has been recognized internationally since 1968. Persistent misrepresentation of our work by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and his supporters only puts back the day when all women can exercise this right.

Alex Marshall Chief of Media Services United Nations Population Fund New York Letter to the Editor, Washington Post doclink

The Future of the International Family Planning Movement

   July 27, 2005, Population Reference Bureau

The availability, use, and funding of family planning worldwide has seen a revolution in the last 50 years, dramatically reducing fertility levels and slowing population growth in developing countries. But contraceptive use is still low and need for it high in some of the world's poorest and most populous places.

In the 1970s and 1980s family planning was in the spotlight, but recently not so much recently as as issues such as HIV/AIDS and poverty alleviation. Perhaps its success has led to its recent loss of visibility.

Recently key informants - developing-country program managers, senior staff members of nongovernmental and donor organizations, and prominent researchers - were surveyed in a study supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute of Population and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins University. One key informant in the study said: "When you hesitate to say the words 'family planning,' something is happening. When you say 'reproductive health' and have to be careful, something is happening."

There is a declining sense of urgency about population growth and its consequences; competing health and development priorities; rising political conservatism (especially in the United States); and a lack of international and local leadership. Poverty reduction was cited as the primary focus of current development efforts.

The agenda of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) meeting in Cairo in 1994 emphasized the welfare of individual women, the achievement of their sexual and reproductive health and rights, and gender equity. This redefinition of the social problem of population growth in terms of reproductive health, particularly for women, has caused popular consciousness about the problem to ebb, since reproductive health does not carry the same political vitality as a developmental disaster or disease epidemic.

"When reproductive health becomes too big, family planning gets lost. The trouble is that it's no longer a focused program. It's difficult for donors to see, to manage and implement." In 1995, family planning received 55% of total worldwide population-assistance expenditures, while basic research and reproductive health received 18% each and HIV/STIs received 9%. In 2003, HIV/STIs received 47% of total worldwide population-assistance expenditures, while reproductive health received 25%, basic research 15%, and family planning 13%. Compared to the magnitude of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, preventing unintended pregnancies is now perceived internationally as much less compelling and less urgent.

While there was general agreement that collaboration between family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs was appropriate, there seemed to be distinct lack of collaboration between the fields. Young people who used to be attracted to the family planning field when it was seen as a critical social need are reportedly going into fields that are perceived to be more urgent today, such as HIV/AIDS, safe motherhood, and poverty alleviation, while some older, experienced leaders who formerly worked in family planning have moved on. That and lack of funding for advanced training means that leadership in family planning is aging or lacking.

Strong opposition from abortion opponents is also a disincentive to work in the family planning field. Some respondents felt that the international family planning movement was in it's demise, but others felt that the movement would continue with the locus of action shifiting to the developing world in those countries that have major contraceptive needs, a rapidly growing population, and a policy commitment to slowing growth. Others felt that women's motivation to control fertility is so strong (and the social norm of family planning so well established) that contraceptive use will continue to rise no matter what happens to family planning programs.

Some felt the message of family planning could be recast (1) addressing an unfinished agenda of unmet contraceptive need, unwanted fertility, stalled fertility decline, and shortages of contraceptive supplies; (2) highlighting family planning's benefits for reducing abortion and improving women's status and health; and (3) demonstrating family planning's relevance in reducing social inequity. Many saw the risks of increased poverty, poor health, and higher mortality as a result of high fertility and population growth rates.

"The population theme is both a threat and an opportunity. It needs to be better utilized, not for Malthusian reasons, but in order to rise above poverty," said one respondent. doclink

U.S.;: Maternal Health Donations Overflow Bush Blockade

   November 8, 2007, WomensENews

The U.N. Population Fund picked up more than $200 million in new commitments over five years from the UK. UK has allocated more than $40 million per year to the fund.

Contributions are voluntarily allocated at the discretion of 180 U.N. member nations. The fund received $269 million in 2001, $389 million in 2006 and $411 million in 2007.

The organization that since 2002 has been shunned by the administration of the White House that withholds funding via a policy loophole that had its genesis during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Congress passed an amendment giving the president discretion to withhold funding from any group or agency involved in coercive abortion or sterilization. The White House has refused to release funding for the agency that was appropriated by Congress.

The withheld U.S. funding since 2002 would have allowed the UNFPA to prevent 244,000 maternal deaths. Private citizens are being encouraged to support the UNFPA through a new web service that allows a user to enter information about herslf with the idea that women around the world can begin to compare their common experiences.

Another new online tool is the MDG Monitor web site, that uses data to track progress in meeting the U.N. MDG's Visitors can quickly check global comparison of data that include maternal mortality rates and girl-boy ratios of school enrollments.

The Bush administration contends that because the UNFPA provides financial and technical resources to China's National Population and Family Planning Commission, it supports the Chinese government's program of coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization.

The chief of the Washington office of UNFPA says the program in China promotes a voluntary approach to family planning and last year, spent $3.69 million in China.

Abortions declined by 18 percent between 2003 and 2005 in the counties in China where the UNFPA worked.

At least 200 million women lack access to the contraceptives they desire in order to plan their families or space their children. Reproductive health conditions are the leading cause of death and illness among women of childbearing age. Demand for family planning services is expected to increase by 4% over the next 15 years.

Other major donors promised to devote more than $1.4 billion to the overall cause of reducing maternal mortality.

The Gates Foundation, which in 2006 received a gift of $31 billion from Warren Buffett and has so far pledged $563 million to maternal health, vowed to take further action. Over $486 million has already been paid out.

Japan promised to focus on global health when it hosts the Group of Eight economic summit in Hokkaido Toyako in July 2008. doclink

World Population Day: U.S. Funding Continues to Stumble

   July 11, 2007, InterPress Service

The U.S. remains the only major donor that continues to cut off funds to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA).

Since 2002, the U.S. has withheld about 161 million dollars in funding on a false claim that UNFPA supports coercive abortion in China.

The State Department team investigated UNFPA-supported projects in China and submitted a report stating, "based on what we heard, saw, and read, we find no evidence that UNFPA has knowingly supported or participated in the management of a programme of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilisation in the PRC [People's Republic of China].

UNFPA has never -- and will never -- be involved in coercion in China or any part of the world.

The majority of Americans support the work of UNFPA, and we hope that a new president, Republican or Democrat, will listen to the views of voters and support UNFPA.

There is a role for both government and private philanthropy to provide support for UNFPA. Private philanthropy is not sufficient to meet the needs for the health and dignity of women. Government support is vital both financially and morally.

Over 100,000 individuals and donors have contributed nearly 3.5 million dollars to the 34 Million Friends of UNFPA campaign. In 2006, 180 countries contributed a total of 360 million dollars to the regular resources of UNFPA. It also highlights the importance of sexual and reproductive health, as well as HIV prevention, for development.

The number of UNFPA donor countries has increased over the last few years, from 69 in 1999; to 172 in 2005; to last year's new high of 180.

The top six donors were the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Britain, Japan and Denmark. doclink

The Changing Face of Foreign Assistance: New Funding Paradigms Offer a Challenge and Opportunity for Family Planning

   September 5, 2006, Populationaction.org

Development assistance is far more complex now than it was during the time of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo. New foreign assistance strategies that aim to encourage ownership by recipients offer the hope of increased financial support to global development. But the nature of the new aid architecture makes it more difficult to ensure that specific interventions such as family planning are prioritized and remain funded at adequate levels.

Large amounts of money have been reserved for high-profile diseases such as HIV and malaria. Donors have adopted financing mechanisms that emphasize a holistic health systems approach. These mechanisms will better enable donors to follow aid effectiveness protocols but pose challenges to family planning. The new aid architecture makes it more difficult to ensure that interventions such as family planning are funded at adequate levels. Even less is known about the effectiveness of options such as an airline tax to finance the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, debt buy-downs and financing facilities. Those in the family planning field can participate now and help ensure that family planning programs benefit from future returns. doclink

Malaysia: Poor Nations Urged to Cast Away Outdated Religious Tenets to Improve Women's Lot

   May 9, 2005, Associated Press

At the opening of a two-day ministerial meeting of Nonaligned Movement members on the advancement of women, Malaysia's prime minister said that developing countries, especially Muslim nations, must challenge outdated customs and religious teachings that keep their women poor and powerless. Groups opposed to the empowerment of women have often used religion and cultural norms to perpetuate discrimination. It takes courage and fortitude to challenge long held and deeply ingrained beliefs about the role of women in society, particularly if religion is the main reason for their subjugation. Women in some parts of the world have become more emancipated, but continue to be marginalized and discriminated against in many Muslim countries. Women still suffer from a lack of education, resources, and job insecurity. The situation is worse in countries torn by war and armed conflicts and are raped, tortured, maimed and subjected to unspeakable crimes. Ministers were expected at the meeting to issue a declaration pledging to protect women from war and diseases and provide them with more political and economic power. A draft proposes wide-ranging measures as well as affirmative action policies to eliminate gender discrimination. The countries are expected to express their grave concern over the suffering of Palestinian and Syrian women under Israeli occupation, according to the draft. The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of poor nations that tried to stay neutral during the Cold War. Since the end of the Cold War, the movement has continued to work to reverse the marginalization of Third World countries in world affairs. doclink

Angola: Families Living Standards Improved - UNPF Director

   July 12, 2004, Angola Press Agency

In Luanda the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) has scored progress towards improving the families living standards, with school enrollment and life expectancy on the rise. The number of women and couples choosing their reproduction spacing is rising, with many taking measures to fight HIV. Women and adolescents are advised on the sexually transmitted diseases prevention and take measures to protect themselves against violence and bad treatment. doclink

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The United Nations Fund for Population (UNFPA)

Controversy Shadows UN Population Meeting

   April 29, 2013, International Development

Last week the 46th session of the Commission on Population and Development concluded at U.N. headquarters. 45 member nations participated. The five-day session was described as fraught with tension and disagreement because most of the states were "concerned about the economic implications of migration, looking at the effects of remittances," said Mohammad Zia-ur-Rehman, chief executive of leading Pakistani NGO Awaz Foundation. He said the connection between health and migration was frequently overlooked. "Many member states are less interested in highlighting issues related to particularly HIV/AIDS and overall sexual and reproductive health rights and gender identity issues and how these can particularly affect migrants," he continued.

The global remittance flows of migration were an estimated $534 billion in 2012, although the U.N. estimates that twice this amount could have been transferred informally.

In October a high-level dialogue on migration and development will be held that will help lay the foundation for how migration will be incorporated into the post-2015 agenda.

The number of internagional migrants reached 214 million in 2010, up from 155 million in 1990, according to U.N. figures.

About half of today's international migrants are women, an extremely vulnerable group, unlikely to receive access to the social and health protections that they need from gender-based violence, unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

Member states from South Asia and some Arab nations like Qatar, as well as Nigeria and the Vatican, opposed the inclusion of sexual and reproductive health language in a consensus agreement. doclink

Karen Gaia says: I found the coverage of this meeting sparse and confusing. I welcome any better explanation of what happened at this meeting.

Support the UNFPA

   July 31, 2012, Friends of UNFPA

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, works to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled. Your support today will help improve and save lives in the 150 countries around the world where UNFPA operates. doclink

Family Planning Summit Could Mark Turning Point for Maternal Health

   June 7, 2012, Mail and Guardian

Enabling women to control the number and spacing of their children is essential to reducing maternal deaths and human misery.

Over 200 million women, mostly in the least developed countries, want to use modern family planning methods but can't access them, facing cultural barriers or family resistance, or not having access to contraceptives, or there is a lack of information or trained workers to give advice.

In London in July a family planning summit is being co-hosted by the UK government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation where an initiative will be planned to tackle the estimated $3.6bn (£2.3bn) annual shortfall in investment. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is supporting the initiative so that it can gain traction and support among other donors and UN member countries.

The summit's aim is to mobilise the political will and extra resources needed to give 120 million more women access to family planning by 2020. This ambitious target is one that is desperately needed. Hundreds of thousands of women continue to die from complications in pregnancy and childbirth. Without new urgency and impetus, many developing countries will not only fail to meet the MDG target to reduce maternal mortality by 75% by 2015 but for decades to come. This would be a betrayal of the most vulnerable people and communities on our planet and an affront to our sense of justice.

For every mother who dies, 20 more suffer from chronic ill health and disability. Uncontrolled pregnancy has a much wider impact on the life chances of women and their children - and the health and strength of their communities. doclink

House Foreign Affairs Committee Votes to Defund UNFPA

   October 6, 2011, Ms Magazine

The House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to defund the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), with the vote 23 Republicans to 17 Democrats.

The Huffington Post said, "If the U.S were to give $50 million to the UNFPA in 2012" it "could prevent 7,000 maternal and newborn deaths, provide surgeries to 10,000 women afflicted by an obstetric fistula, and offer contraception to about 1 million couples who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford it."

Ranking Member Howard Berman (D-CA) stated, "Tragically, the bill takes aim at poor women and children in the developing world - women and children who all too often suffer from the effects of disease, war, rape, and a host of absolutely horrid conditions that few of us can even begin to imagine. Rather than helping these desperate people - as UNFPA seeks to do - the legislation makes them pawns in a debate over social issues that often seems divorced from reality."

House Republicans claim that their desire to defund the UNFPA stems from the organization's support of China's one-child policy, which requires women obtain abortions and sterilization. However, Sarah Craven, chief of the Washington branch of the UNFPA, denied these claims, stating, "Not a dime of U.S, money goes to China, and not one dime goes to abortion." An investigation conducted by the State Department, which found "no evidence that UNFPA has knowingly supported or participated in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization," supports Craven's assertion. doclink

According to Engenderhealth: Democrats on the committee offered various amendments to allow U.S. money to UNFPA to be directed to specific programs, such as ending child marriage and female genital mutilation, preventing and repairing obstetric fistula, and providing safe birth kits to pregnant women following a natural disaster, but these were turned down by the Republicans.

Navigating the Turbulent Waters of Religion and Women's Rights: An Interview with Thoraya Obaid

   Huffington Post

Thoraya Obaid, a proud Muslim and Saudi Arabian citizen, just completed ten years as Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). In her reflections, she said:

"My father was a devout Muslim who took very seriously the first principle in the Quran which is about learning. He insisted that his daughters get a good education and he never interfered with my life choices.

"It was clear from the day I started at UNFPA that it was the most controversial of the UN agencies. The attacks were strongest during the Bush 43 administration years, but we have been attacked all the time, including by feminist groups that fear that UNFPA has 'sold out'".

The attacks come only from the United States. Recent Republican administrations have withdrawn United States funding from UNFPA, citing the "Kemp Kasten Amendment" which was enacted to ensure that no US money goes to any organizations that participates in the management of coercive population policies.

"The issue is that UNFPA works in China, and China is considered by some in Congress and the US administration (when there is a Republican President), to be subject to the Kemp Kasten Amendment. UNFPA's work in China has been reviewed many times, and always with the conclusion that UNFPA has a positive influence on China's policies. The Bush administration sent a team to China that reached the same conclusion, but that made no difference. Throughout President Bush's tenure, Congress appropriated funds for UNFPA but Bush would not release them. It all was the result of the influence of the religious right.

"Democratic Presidents (Clinton and Obama) release the funding, after deducting the small amounts that would be spent on UNFPA's China program; we are asked to put the funds in a separate account and be held accountable for it."

Thoraya Obaid met several times with the Holy See's representative to the United Nations. They agreed to disagree. It was significant that they opened a channel that would allow them to communicate if times got tough. On the ground, in many parts of the world, we work all the time with the Catholic Church on common agendas such as ending violence against women.

"We are working to build relationships and partnerships with a wide range of groups, including but also going beyond the traditional feminist/reproductive health groups. It is important to broaden the base of understanding and support and find ways to support each other. Some groups still have doubts about UNFPA's commitment and approach and some are uneasy specifically about our effort to work with faith groups, fearing that it signals an erosion in our commitment to human rights. It absolutely does not. Today, over 400 faith based groups form the Global Network of Faith-based Organizations for Population and Development.

"By dealing with cultural values and religious beliefs, we aim to promote human rights, never to accept the status quo or harmful practices but rather to expand the reach of the human rights agenda."

"There are some things that we, UNFPA, cannot address and discuss, while some things women's groups can address less effectively.

"Abortion is the most controversial topic. We, UNFPA, are mandated to consider abortion within the context of public health, but never as a right, as some NGOs do. That is a clear parameter from the ICPD Programme of Action, the famous and much contested clause 8.25 which set out the position towards abortion. It states that abortion should never be a form of family planning and that when family planning services are available and accessible that lowers abortions. Abortion is a national issue to be decided by national laws and legislations. Where it is legal, it should be done under good medical conditions. Some women's groups approach the issue differently, viewing abortion in the context of a woman's right to choose. So, though we have many common interests, we deal with them differently.

"Thus there are areas where we can work together with a wide range of religious leaders and women's groups - violence against women, child marriage, and female genital cutting are among them. On the more controversial issues, we need to give some more space and time and show mutual respect for our differences. doclink

Family Planning and the Path to Progress

   January 24, 2009, New York Times*

Obama pledged to restore the money while signing an order reversing a move by Bush that banned American government aid for family-planning organizations that, promoted or conducted abortions.

Sixty percent of people living in poverty are women. Two-thirds of the 960 million illiterate adults are women. Seventy percent of children out of school are girls. Women are the givers and keepers of life.

A cofounder of Friends of the UNFPA, was elated to see the Global Gag Rule gone and to see President Obama's statement of support. As of 2009, our movement, (begun in 2002 when the Bush Administration refused to release $34 million) asking at least one dollar from 34 million Americans, has garnered $4,000,000.

The money has permitted UNFPA to increase its support for family planning, to train doctors and midwives, save women's lives in childbirth, repair obstetric fistulas, discouraged forced early marriage, and to educate adolescents about AIDS.

By 2050 the world's population is expected to rise to nine billion people, all of whom will be seeking food, water, and other resources. This growth in population will exacerbate every environmental and humanitarian crisis we face today. Gender inequality is at the base of population and environmental issues. Hillary Clinton stated: Of particular concern is the plight of women and girls who comprise the majority of the world's unhealthy, unschooled, unfed, and unpaid.

UNFPA offers the family planning that allows women to choose if and when have children. In the world there is a vast unmet demand for family planning, that can mitigate the worst of humanitarian and environmental crises. doclink

UN Official Urges More Investment, Efforts on Issues of Population Amid Financial Crisis

   March 30, 2009, Xinhua General News Service

A senior UN official urged countries to increase social investment and redouble efforts for an international population agenda. The financial crisis threatens to push 200 million people back into poverty. The financial crisis is threatening to wipe out progress in improving health and reducing poverty.

Countries must put people first and the long- term well-being of the majority over the short-term interests of a few.

Increase social investment and redouble efforts for the ICPD agenda by investing in women, youth and migrants.

Established in 1946, UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) is an international agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. doclink

President Bush's Appeal to Religious Fundamentalists

   June 25, 2007, Population Institute

Opposition to abortion is a cornerstone of the Bush administration. The President blocks funds for UNFPA, the international agency that has prevented more abortions than any other policy.

Congress votes to contribute U.S. funds to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the but when these bills reach President Bush's desk, they die, because China is one of the more than 100 countries in which UNFPA operates.

President Bush is convinced, as were conservative Presidents before him, that China's national family planning program is driven by forced abortion and coercive sterilization. The Chinese government has denied this allegation for more than 20 years. China, the world's most populous country, employs draconian measures to put the brakes on further population growth. These have included reducing food rations, reducing living space and denying school choice to parents who have children beyond a couple's first child.

It has not been resolved, however, whether the Chinese government is perpetrating coercion. Beyond the moral repugnance of government dictating bedroom decisions, it is a strategy that is unnecessary and likely unworkable. Studies indicate that when couples have access to family planning information, education and supplies, they choose to limit their family size.

To correct the administration's policy, a bill in the House of Representatives calling for a $34 million fiscal year 2008 appropriation to UNFPA, would ensure detailed presidential accountability for refusing to release these congressionally appropriated funds.

In the 32 Chinese counties that receive UNFPA assistance, not only have maternal deaths declined, but abortions have decreased from 24 per 1,000 women to 10 per 1,000 women. doclink

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US Foreign Funding for Family Planning, USAID

This U.S. Law Contributes to Women's Deaths Around the World

   May 26, 2014, Huffington Post   By: Alissa Scheller

The Helms Amendment, which passed in 1973 - more than 40 years ago, prevents U.S. foreign assistance funds from being used to pay for abortion as "a method of family planning" or "to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions." in 1994 Congress passed legislation to clarify that women in countries receiving aid could be counseled on all pregnancy options, including abortion. However, the Helms Amendment still inhibits funding to family planning agencies.

According to Al Jazeera, in Ethiopia, "a woman living in an area where health facilities receive USAID support will be denied the abortion care that is legal in her own country, whereas a woman living in a different district funded by another donor will have access to safe care." More than 100 women die each day from complications of unsafe abortions. These deaths often occur in poor countries that receive aid from the U.S. for other medical treatments.

U.S. anti-abortion rules endanger women around the world. WHO studies show that where women can access safe abortions, fewer women have unsafe abortions, and a study in Nepal showed that legalizing abortion cut the maternal mortality rate in half. doclink

House Bill Slashes Family Planning

   June 11, 2015, Population Connection Action Fund

Today the House Appropriations Committee completed work on the Fiscal Year 2016 State Department and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill.

In it, funding for family planning programs in the developing world were cut by almost $150 million, leaving funding for international family planning programs to "not more than $461 million.

The bill also bans any U.S. contribution to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) despite its work to expand access to birth control, to prevent and treat obstetric fistula, to eliminate female genital mutilation, to ensure access to basic reproductive health care to women in emergency situations, to end the practice of child marriage, and to eliminate coercive practices in China.

In addition the bill calls for a reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule, which bans family planning aid to foreign health care agencies that use other, private funding to provide legal abortion, to offer counselling or referrals on legal abortion, or that publicly support a policy of legal abortion within their own countries.

This, in effect, disqualifies the most effective, experienced, and respected family planning providers in the developing world from receiving U.S. aid. The results are disastrous. When it was in effect from 2001 to 2009, clinics were forced to close, services had to be cut back, and contraceptive supplies ran dry. AS a result, abortions in several African countries affected by the policy doubled, according to researchers from Stanford University.

The bill is now on track to go to the House floor for a vote by the full chamber. doclink

Guess How Much of Uncle Sam's Money Goes to Foreign Aid. Guess Again!

   February 10, 2015, National Public Radio   By: Poncie Rutsch

Less than 1 percent of the $4 trillion federal budget goes to foreign aid. In a survey, the average respondent estimated that 26% went toward assisting other countries.

Once they were told that the U.S. spends less than 1% of the federal budget on foreign aid, only 28% still thought the nation was overspending.

The U.S. is pretty generous ... until you consider how much money it has. "On the one hand, you can say that the U.S. is the most generous because it is one of the biggest donators to foreign aid," says Phyllis Pomerantz, a professor of public policy at Duke University. "But on the other hand, we have one of the lowest percentages of gross national income donated to foreign aid," she says. doclink

Just the Numbers: the Impact of U.S. International Family Planning Assistance

   June 15, 2014, Guttmacher Institute

For over 45 years the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has been a major provider of contraceptive services to the world's poorest people. Helping poor women and families gain control over childbearing choices means fewer unintended, unwanted, and/or risky pregnancies. It also reduces the motive for wanting abortions, which poor people often resort to under unsafe conditions. Planned birth spacing contributes to healthier mothers, babies and families. Having affordable numbers of children improves prosperity for families, communities, and nations. For FY 2014, USAID has allocated $610 million to assist family planning and reproductive health programs, of which $35 million is designated for the UN Population Fund.

This modest funding level is enough to:

• Provide contraceptive services and supplies to 31 million women or couples;

• Avert 7 million unintended pregnancies and 3 million induced abortions;

• Avert 13,000 maternal deaths, meaning that 60,000 fewer children will lose their mothers.

These gains are seriously jeopardized when program funding gets targeted for budget cuts . For example, each $10 million decrease in USAID international family planning and reproductive health assistance:

• Reduces the number receiving contraceptive services and supplies by 520,000;

• Results in 110,000 more unintended pregnancies, including 50,000 more unplanned births;

• Results in 50,000 more mostly unsafe abortions and 200 maternal deaths affecting 900 children. doclink

House GOP Again Targets Birth Control

   June 19, 2014, Population Connection   By: Brian Dixon

The House bill would slash funding for family planning programs in the developing world where there are already a quarter billion women who want to prevent or delay pregnancy but have no access to affordable, appropriate birth control. Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), who chairs the subcommittee that wrote the bill and who calls herself a supporter of family planning, is proposing a 25% cut in overall funding that would help women in the poorest countries take control of their own lives and futures.

The bill would also ban any aid to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) despite its work to expand access to birth control, to prevent and treat obstetric fistula, to eliminate female genital mutilation, to ensure access to basic reproductive health care to women in emergency situations, to end the practice of child marriage, and to eliminate coercive practices in China.

Granger's bill also calls for a reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule, one of the most misguided policies ever created. It bans family planning aid to foreign health care agencies that use other, private funding to provide legal abortion, or to offer counselling or referrals on legal abortion, or that publicly support a policy of legal abortion within their own countries. It effectively disqualifies the most effective, experienced, and respected family planning providers in the developing world from receiving U.S. aid.

The same bill would block U.S. funding to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

We'll be working hard to make sure that this bill never becomes law. Please join us in that fight. Click on the link in the headline to send a Thank You note to Senator Jeanne Shaheen for sponsoring a bill to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule. doclink

Providing Family Planning - Supply Or Demand (pdf)

   May 1, 2014, WOA website   By: Art Elphick

With the current emphasis on voluntary family planning (FP), FP fund raisers focus largely on the over 200 million women who live in places where affordable FP is still unavailable. Their ads imply that if you provide it, they will come. Just help the sponsors service the unmet demand.

But this message oversimplifies the problem. Large and growing families often live where local clinics offer affordable contraceptives, yet they either don't use them or use them and still have large families. Often young people are steered away from FP services, or not told about them, and they wind up bearing children while they are still children themselves. The problem often stems not from a lack of supply, but rather from a lack of demand for FP services. Unless health care workers view large families as a problem, they may only offer service on demand, and they may not even use the services themselves. It is embarrassing enough to talk about sex when clients ask questions, so they would not discuss it unless clients ask.

Many FP advocates know that low demand is more of a problem than low supply, and that an effective FP program must include quality outreach services. Outreach services come in different forms to best fit the needs of the communities they serve. This report has documented several outreach programs that have proved effective in making people understand the benefits of using available FP services.

Click here - or on the headline above - to see the report "Barriers and Solutions to Family Planning Resistance". doclink

Worth the Wait: President's Fy 2015 Budget Request for Family Planning and Reproductive Health

   April 21, 2014, Population Action International

Six weeks after posting its general initial budget, the Obama Administration released the details of its FY-2015 request for international family planning (FP) and reproductive health (RH) programs. Its call for $644.3 million is $34.3 million -- nearly 6% -- higher than the current appropriated level enacted in January. It allocates $538 million to the Global Health Programs account, $71 million to Economic Support Funds, and $35.3 million as the U.S. contribution to the UN's Population Fund. At a time of increasing budgetary pressures, these requested increases suggest strong administration support for FP/RH programs.

Nevertheless, this proposal remains lower than the $669.5 million the Senate Appropriations Committee approved in FY 2014-a level of funding endorsed by 124 House members and 24 Senators in letters to their respective Appropriations Committee colleagues earlier this month. It also falls far short of the $1 billion that is the U.S. fair share of total global expenditures required to address the unmet need of 222 million women in the developing world who want FP services where they are not yet available.

Of course, now that Congress has received the budget request, it still must decide over the next several months whether to grant the requested amounts or continue underfunding these urgent projects at current levels. doclink

Karen Gaia says: 8 billion is needed. $4 billion has already been supplied. That leaves $3.4 billion to meet the unmet need of 222 million women for access to -- and accurate information about -- affordable effective contraception.

Ethiopia, about 1.7 million unintended pregnancies occur every year, largely due to unmet need for contraception. doclink

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