July 2, 2002
Volume 4/ Number 15
The battle to withhold UNFPA funding appears to be over. President Bush is expected to announce within the next several weeks that UNFPA will receive no U.S. funding. A State Department investigation, not yet made public, has reportedly confirmed what PRI earlier found: China practices coercion—forced abortions and forced sterilizations—in the 32 “model counties” that the UNFPA claims are clean.
Steven W. Mosher
White House Tells State Department To Plan Withholding UNFPA Funds
The Washington Post reported on Sunday that President Bush is “heading toward a decision to cut off” all funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). While a final announcement has not yet been made, senior administration officials believe that Bush will permanently withhold the entire $34 million earmarked for UNFPA by Congress. Bush aides have directed the State Department to develop a plan cutting off the program’s U.S. funds on the grounds that it violates the Kemp-Kasten Amendment, which forbids U.S. funds from going to any organization or country which supports a program of forced abortion or forced sterilization.
The State Department delegation dispatched to China two months ago has apparently confirmed PRI’s earlier findings about the UNFPA’s program. According to the Washington Post, “. . . the White House Domestic Policy Council drafted a memo to the president based on the delegation’s finding . . . The memo said the team found the U.N. agency had no direct knowledge or involvement in China’s coercive policies but that these practices did go on in some of the Chinese counties where the agency operated.”
The UNFPA had claimed that its “model county” program, involving 32 Chinese counties, was free of such abuses.
The battle over UNFPA funding began last fall when PRI reported that a UNFPA model county was wracked by forced abortions and sterilizations. The House wanted to cut funding to the UN agency immediately, but the Senate balked. The two houses of Congress, unable to the resolve the dispute among themselves, passed the buck to the President, giving Bush the authority to decide when and how much of the $34 million they had appropriated for the UNFPA would actually be spent. The President put a formal hold on the funds on January 12.
In the months since, many in Congress have been trying to force Bush’s hand.
On May 9, 2002, during the foreign aid supplemental mark-up, the House Appropriations Committee voted 32-yes, 31-no to require the president to release all $34 million to the UNFPA by July 10, 2002, unless the President determined by then that UNFPA is in violation of Kemp-Kasten.
On May 15, after heroic efforts by the White House staff and the Republican House Leadership, the committee reversed itself, voting 32-yes, 30-no to support an amendment offered by Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS). This would have required the administration to make its report on UNFPA by July 31 and would have preserved the President’s right to give UNFPA zero funding for 2002. This narrow “victory” was significant, since a majority on the House Appropriations Committee had earlier supported UNFPA funding.
The House Rules Committee then removed any reference to the UNFPA in the final foreign aid supplemental—completely restoring the President’s right to give what he considers to be the “appropriate” amount to UNFPA for FY 2002. It also removed the July 31 date for the President to make his determination regarding Kemp-Kasten. This “final supplemental” passed the House with the support of 280 members.
The Senate version of the foreign aid supplemental, however, mandates that the President spend all $34 million for UNFPA by July 10, unless he determines that UNFPA violates Kemp-Kasten.
The President responded by notifying Congress that he would veto the foreign aid supplemental if it did not give him complete discretion over UNFPA funding. And pro-life House conferees, who will meet with their Senate counterparts shortly to iron out this and other differences in the two “supplementals,” remain steadfast in their commitment to empower the President to zero-fund UNFPA.
Although the final decision will not be announced for several weeks, President Bush has now asked the State Department to begin planning for the elimination of funding for UNFPA.
The movement to withhold funding from UNFPA began when PRI submitted evidence to the Congress and the administration that UNFPA supports coercive sterilization and abortion in China’s one-child policy. PRI investigators visited China last September and recorded audio and videotaped testimonies of victims and witnesses of coercion in UNFPA’s “model county” program in Sihui, Guandong Province.
We applaud the President for his courageous decision on behalf of women and families in China.