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President’s Page: Turning Out the Lights at the UNFPA


On December 19 the Congress sent to the President a foreign aid bill which earmarks $34 million for the UN Population Fund. This amount — an increase over the current year’s funding of $25 million — would seem to represent a victory for the population controllers. But, as is so often the case in Washington, all is definitely not what it seems. The tide of opinion in Congress has turned against the population controllers, and it is unlikely that they will ever see a dime of the monies appropriated.

Let Me Explain

For months the foreign aid bill was stalled on a single question: Should we as a people be funding the UNFPA?

The House of Representatives, led by stalwart pro-lifers like Christopher Smith, Henry Hyde, Tom DeLay, and Dick Armey, said no. They maintained that any organization that participates in forced abortions and forced sterilizations in China should be ineligible for US funds. If the funding could not be zeroed out entirely, they said, it should be capped at its current level of $25 million.

Their opposite numbers in the US Senate disagreed. In fact, the Senate, in order to reward the UNFPA for its “achievements” in population control, actually voted to increase UNFPA funding to $37.5 million!

Neither was willing to bend to the other‘s will, and there matters remained for a time.

We at PRI can take some credit for this impasse, since it was our recent investigation of the UNFPA’s activities in China that brought it about, Our testimony before the House International Relations Committee galvanized our friends in the House of Representatives to stand up to the abortion-minded Senate (See the September/October PRI Review)

PRI’s Work Makes Shockwaves

PRI’s work also sent shock waves throughout the population control movement. The reason for this is simple: China is the Achilles Heel of the anti-life movement. The involvement of the UNFPA, the IPPF, and other population control groups in forced abortions and forced sterilizations in China reveals who these people really are, and what they really want. For all their pretense of providing “reproductive health care” to give women a “choice” and reduce “maternal mortality,” they are totalitarians at heart. They want to radically reduce the number of babies born, and will stop at nothing to achieve this end.

Finally, our work has unified the pro-life, pro-family movement in this issue. Groups from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute to the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America now speak with one voice to demand that UNFPA be defunded.

How Will This Happen?

The immediate outcome of the House-Senate standoff on UNFPA funding was, as is so often the case in Congress, a compromise. The two houses of Congress agreed to a compromise amount of $34 million. Even so, as I say, it is unlikely that the UNFPA will ever see any of this money.

You see, the foreign aid bill sent to the president also contains the Kemp-Kasten Amendment. This Amendment, originally passed in 1985, states that any country or organization which participates in the support or management of a program of forced abortion or forced sterilization shall be “ineligible for US funds.” Although it doesn’t mention the UNFPA and China by name, it was crafted for use against both. I know. I was there at its creation.

As soon as it was the law of the land, Kemp-Kasten was invoked by former President Ronald Reagan to cut off all funding to the UNFPA. The first President Bush continued this same policy. From 1986 to 1993 the population controllers at the UN received no US funds. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

What will President George W. Bush do? We are confident that, encouraged by PRI and a host of other pro-life groups, he will follow in the footsteps of his two pro-life predecessors (and his father), and keep the $34 million appropriated by the Congress in the US Treasury where it belongs.

More Bad News for Population Controllers at the UN

As soon as our pro-life friends in Great Britain learned of this new initiative to cut funding to the UNFPA, they busily set about doing the same thing. An amendment was put before the British Parliament that, like Kemp-Kasten, would defund any organization that participates in a program of forced abortion or forced sterilization. I was invited by Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) to come to London to present evidence before the Parliament, the media and the public at large on the UNFPA and its involvement in China.

I had no choice but to go. Nothing like this had ever happened before in the British Parliament, which for decades has been among the UNFPA’s most generous supporters. In fact, when the UNFPA lost its American funding, it turned to the British to help make up its shortfall. The result was that our success here in the US was almost completely undone by additional contributions from Great Britain and Japan. If I could help to prevent this from happening again, then families and children in China and around the world would benefit.

I presented the results of our investigation of the UNFPA’s China program in the aptly named “Moses Room” of the House of Lords. The name derives from the mural that adorns the back wall, in which a life-size figure of Moses is shown descending from Mount Sinai bearing the “Tables of the Law,” as the Ten Commandments are called in the British Isles.

Man’s First Population Control Program

The mural gave me an opportunity to mention the first population control program in recorded history, that visited upon the Israelite slaves by their Egyptian masters. In the words of Pope John Paul II, “The Pharaoh of old, haunted by the present and increase of the children of Israel, submitted them to every kind of oppression and ordered that every male child born of the Hebrew women was to be killed” (The Gospel of Life, March 25, 1995). Population control was I wrong then, just as it is wrong now.

The meeting was hosted by Lord David Alton, an independent who is perhaps the leading pro-life parliamentarian in the UK. I presented the evidence that we had gathered in China, including videotaped testimony from women in China, and answered questions — mostly friendly — from the assembled parliamentarians and the press.

I didn’t know it at the time, but sitting in the back of the room were no fewer than three representatives of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (the UNFPA’s partner-in-crime in China and around the world.) Also present was one of the UNFPA’s chief cheerleaders in Parliament, Member of Parliament (MP) Jenny Tonge from the Liberal Democratic party. All were scribbling furiously as I spoke.

The rest of my time in Great Britain was spent meeting with individual parliamentarians. Among others, we met with Conservative MP Edward Leigh, who is promoting the amendment in the House of Commons. Mr. Leigh is a Knight of Malta with six children. We also spent a productive hour with Carolyn Spellman, the Conservative Party’s spokesman for foreign aid, and a member of the Conservative Christian Fellowship, who promised to weigh in on the debate.

I also visited the Conservative Party Headquarters, where I learned that the Conservative Party’s Manifesto — the British term for a party platform — puts the party on record as “firmly opposing any coercive birth control practices.” (Quoted from the Health section, First Things First: A Conservative Approach to Development, The Conservative Party, 1999.) I spoke to a number of staffers about China and the UNFPA, and was interviewed by the editor of Conservatism, a quarterly publication of the Conservative Party.

British Media Meetings

I did a number of other interviews as well, talking to the BBC, the Catholic limes, and the Labor LU? News. On my final evening in London I gave a public lecture organized by SPUC,

We also attempted to meet with Labor MPs Clare Short and Hilary Benn, who run Britain’s foreign aid programs under the current Labor government, to present our evidence of the UNFPA’s complicity in coercion in China. They were “unavailable,” however, so our request for a meeting came to naught.

This didn’t stop Ms. Short from attacking PRI in writing for being “unable to provide UNFPA with details of where the alleged abuses had taken place or any other information to help substantiate the allegations.” (Letter of Clare Short, Secretary of State for International Development, to Jonathan Sayeed, Member of Parliament, dated 22 November 2001.)

Proof Given

The truth is, of course, that we told the UNFPA precisely where the abuses were taking place — in Sihui county, Guangdong province, the People’s Republic of China — and even offered to take them there. We provided videotaped, audiotaped, and photographic evidence of abuses to further substantiate our testimony. The only thing we refused to turn over to the UNFPA were the names and addresses of the women we interviewed, this out of concern that it would pass along this information to the Chinese authorities, and that these women would suffer imprisonment or worse as a result. It is a dangerous thing in China to be seen as a critic of government policy.

What Did the trip Accomplish?

In the opinion of Peter Smith, who is SPUC’s point man on this issue, “We met many politicians and made some progress towards de-funding this evil pro-abortion UN agency.”

But my favorite evaluation of our impact came in the form of a backhanded compliment from the opposition. As I was getting ready to board my flight back to the States, I learned that MP Jenny Tonge had said that “there has been some evidence coughed up by someone in the United States who went out there to show that that in some parts of China there are still coercive abortions … [and] the [foreign aid] bill has been held up,” Any time you can hold up the funding of the anti-life forces, it seems to me that you have done a good day’s work. And there is a fair chance we will hold it up, at least in the United States, for the next four years.

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