China attacks PRI
On February 23, 2002, China’s Foreign Ministry attacked PRI by stating that evidence which shows “the UNFPA’s support for China’s forced abortion and sterilization operations is totally groundless.”1 This is not the first time PRI president Steven Mosher has been attacked by the government of the PRC. Ever since he first documented the atrocities of China’s one-child policy in the early 1980s, Mosher has been targeted by the Chinese communists. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has regularly denied that forced abortion and forced sterilization take place in China, despite the fact that most of the Western world recognizes the existence and the persistence of the abuses which Mosher first documented.
The UNFPA, in unison with Planned Parenthood, and several other pro-abortion lobby groups, have taken their cue from China’s communist regime to attack PRI. The UNFPA and the pro-abortion lobby to the liberal media have repeated claims provided by the PRC that coercion does not exist in China.2
Media Blitz for UNFPA
Ignoring first-hand testimonies from over two dozen victims and witnesses of coercion obtained by PRI last September in a UNFPA “model county” program in China, the nation’s largest and most liberal newspapers have joined forces with China, the UNFPA and the pro-abortion lobby.
Without a shred of evidence to support its opinion, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis wrote that UNFPA is helping China’s totalitarian dictatorship end abortion in China.3 However, the bias of this editorial was completely exposed when it stated that UNFPA had claimed it does not provide morning-after pills to Afghan women. (See PRI Weekly Briefing, “The Case Against UNFPA Funding,” www.pop.org)
Again with only the PRC as its primary source, the New York Times described PRI’s first hand evidence of forced abortion and forced sterilization in a UNFPA “model county” program in China as “baseless.”4 In advance of this editorial, PRI had spoken with this New York Times editor for more than an hour. The editor urged PRI to understand the editorial bias of the newspaper under which he was obligated to write, and ultimately reneged on his assurance that at least a few words of victims’ testimonies would be included in the editorial.
The Denver Post also came out in favor of UNFPA funding in an editorial. Completely ignoring the evidence of coercion in China which led to President Bush’s decision, they stated: “It’s unconscionable of the Bush administration to withhold $34 million earmarked by Congress as the US contribution to the United Nations Population Fund, which provides poor women with services ranging from family planning advice to safe-birthing kits in underdeveloped countries.” No mention of forced abortion or forced sterilization.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reduced the controversy over UNFPA funding to “punishing women in Afghanistan and Nigeria because a U.S. congressman is mad at China.”
But perhaps the most biased editorial of all came from Newsday in New York City. Writer Marie Cocco waxes eloquent about the trials of women in Afghan refugee camps and the necessity of UNFPA funding to help them. When she finally mentions PRI’s investigation in China, it is to dismiss Josephine Guy as an investigator for “something called Population Research Institute.” Cocco ignores the evidence of coercion in China, preferring to claim that the investigation centered totally on “a desk allegedly owned by UNFPA.” “There you have it,” she ridicules. “The smoking desk.”5
No Honest Assessment of Evidence
None of these editors gave their readers the benefit of an honest assessment of the evidence. In fact, few even mentioned the evidence, preferring to dismiss it on ideological grounds.
To date, however, despite the attacks from the PRC, the UNFPA and the editors, PRI has prevailed. Amidst difficulties and dangers, PRI investigators returned from China armed with video-taped evidence showing clearly and undeniably that UNFPA supports coercion in China. When newspapers have reported the news, instead of editorializing, the case against UNFPA has become clear. Even the Washington Post reported:
The White House has put a temporary hold on millions in family planning funds until President Bush decides whether to set aside the money altogether to signal opposition to China’s population control methods… Anti-abortion groups and lawmakers have pressed Bush to withhold $34 million from the U.N. Population Fund this year. They say the agency tacitly condones forced abortions and sterilization by providing aid to family planning programs in China.6
Some Reporters Still Care
Reporters who care about human rights have been sure to include detailed accounts of the testimonies of victims obtained by PRI in China and shown before the House Committee on International Relations on October 17, 2001.
PRI’s assertions that UNFPA supports coercion in China were derived from over ten hours of interviews with witnesses and victims of coercion in this UNFPA program in China, recorded on audio and videotape. The evidence is true. UNFPA supports coercion in China.
UNFPA Appropriation on Hold
Because of the evidence, the President of the United States has now placed a hold on next year’s UNFPA appropriation, and his administration has promised that President Bush will bring up the issue of forced abortion during his Feb. 21–22 visit to China.
During this visit, China will deny the existence of coercive abortion and UNFPA’s support of coercion anywhere in China. To date, neither the President nor the strong coalition of pro-life members of Congress have been set back by the heavy fire from the PRC, the UNFPA and the editors.
As of this writing, moves are underway to shift all UNFPA funding to child survival.
Scott Weinberg is director of governmental affairs for PRI.
1 Damien McElroy, “China is furious as Bush halts UN ‘abortion’ funds,” The London Sunday Telegraph, 3 April 2002, p. 27.
2 “Report of the International Review Team on the UNFPA China Country Program,” UNFPA, 22–27 October 2001.
3 “Stop abortion; Give the U.N. its money,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, 26 January 2002, p. 18A.
4 “Birth Control Politics,” The New York Times, 25 January 2002, p. A22.
5 Marie Cocco, “Bush Shows True Colors by Targeting Population Fund,” Newsday, 7 March 2002.
6 Juliet Eilperin, “Family Planning Funds Put on Hold; Abortion Foes Press Bush to Deny Money for U.N. Population Fund,” Washington Post, 12 January 2002, p. A02.