The Obama Administration has substantially increased foreign aid assistance for population control/family planning activities since 2008. The initial budget proposal coming from the state department for the FY 2012 Foreign Appropriations bill requested $760 million for family planning, $300 million above 2008 levels.
The State foreign affairs and operations budget which funds family planning and reproductive health programs through the Global Health Initiative requested a $160 million increase above the $600 million appropriated last year. Family planning and reproductive health money is a separate initiative from funding for AIDS/HIV treatment and prevention programs. Funding allocated to Family Planning is to spread contraceptives and population control activities to poor countries.
In September, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved their version of the Foreign Operations bill directing $700 million for Family Planning, approximately $60 million under what President Obama had asked for. The total includes $40 million for contributions to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The House version of the bill holds spending for family planning/population control programs to 2008 levels to $460 million. It also reinstates the Mexico City Policy, which prohibits U.S. tax dollars to flow to international clinics that perform or refer for abortions. The House bill also denies any funding to UNFPA due to its complicity with forced abortions and sterilizations in China.
Reproductive rights groups are advocating for the U.S. to provide $ 1 billion annually for family planning internationally by 2015 promoting access to contraception and abortion as a basic human right.
Aware of the current fiscal reduction climate in Washington, Bishop Howard Hubbard, USCCB chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace and CRS President Ken Hackett wrote to members of the U.S. Senate asking that they “preserve funding for poverty-focused humanitarian and development assistance in the budget appropriation for the 2012 fiscal year.” The letter outlines essential international assistance programs for the poor that are life saving that fight disease and hunger; needless to say birth control is not among them.
Yesterday, the Senate moved to the second minibus (State/Foreign Operations, Energy and Water, Financial Services) with two pro-life amendments affecting international policy expected to be offered next week. One led by Senator Hatch, would strike the Lautenberg language that prevents future administrations from reinstating the Mexico City Policy. The other led by Senator Wicker, would defund UNFPA.
LifeNews.com Note: Lisa Correnti writes for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared in the pro-life group’s Turtle Bay and Beyond blog and is used with permission.