UN Agency Regrets as 'Disheartening' US Withholding of Funds over Abortion
Posted on Truthout
Friday 16 September 2005
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said today the United States' decision to withhold $34 million for purported abortion-related reasons was especially regrettable when leaders at the World Summit now meeting at UN Headquarters in New York were stressing the need to act together on global concerns.
"The funds are urgently needed for effective multilateral work in developing countries to prevent maternal and child deaths, stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, provide voluntary contraception and to support the work to end poverty," UNFPA said noting that the withheld money could prevent as many as 2 million unwanted pregnancies and 4,700 maternal deaths in developing countries.
The United States is the only country to ever deny funding to UNFPA for non-budgetary reasons in the agency's entire 36 years of operation.
The Administration's stated reason for withholding funds appropriated by Congress for the fourth straight year is simply incorrect, as an assessment team sent to China by the Administration itself found no evidence that UNFPA supports coercive abortions or sterilization, the Fund stressed.
To the contrary, the team reported that UNFPA had registered its strong opposition to such practices. Other independent teams, from the British Parliament and a multi-faith panel of religious leaders, reached the same conclusion, some adding that UNFPA was a force for good, promoting positive change.
"This decision is disheartening because it contradicts clear evidence that UNFPA works hard to end coercion by proving the efficacy and superiority of the voluntary approach to family planning over any other alternative," Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, UNFPA's Executive Director said.
"I hope the United States will rejoin the family of nations that support our multilateral work to eliminate maternal deaths, prevent HIV/AIDS, empower women and reduce poverty," she added. "Our task is made more urgent by the fact that more than 300 million poor women in the world suffer from short- and long-term illnesses related to pregnancy or childbirth, with more than half a million of them dying each year."
The current Administration has so far withheld $127 million in funds appropriated by Congress. Apart from preventing as many as 2 million unwanted pregnancies and 4,700 maternal deaths in developing countries, one year's withheld funding of $34 million could also be used to scale up promising maternal health and HIV-prevention efforts, as well as to treat young women suffering from obstetric fistula.