Lawmakers in Washington are attempting to rebalance U.S. spending on foreign aid which has for years limited funding for maternal and child health and increased spending for groups promoting population reduction and abortion.
The U.S. budget for family planning and reproductive health has increased some 57% since 2006 when Democrats took control in Congress, yet funding for maternal and child health has increased just 16% overall and its funding has dropped 4% within U.S. Agency for Development (USAID). Globally, nations spend $7 billion a year on family planning, based in part by aggressive lobbying by activists who claim that 222 million women suffer from an “unmet need” for contraception globally, a term which development experts have rejected as unsubstantiated.
Congressional committees in both the House and Senate recently passed bills that fund the Department of State and Global Health Initiatives through USAID. The House version reduces family planning funding by $200M and reinstates the Mexico City Policy which would prohibit funding to international groups that perform or promote abortion. Neither bill is likely to go to the floor for a vote, however, thus requiring a Continuing Resolution which would protect current level funding as it has for the past 3 years including to the controversial UN Population Fund (UNFPA).
USAID and UNFPA announced new efforts last week to strengthen their partnership to advance national family planning programs targeting developing countries. This effort identifies contraceptives as “life-saving commodities” and prioritizes these over other supplies that could treat life-threatening illnesses.
Due to the rescinding of the Mexico City Policy by President Obama, USAID now partners with abortion groups, directing billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to them. Though U.S. law prohibits the direct funding of abortion, more than half of the top 20 USAID vendors support or offer programs involving abortion and population control programs. These same groups continue to justify the demand for a U.S. increase in the family planning and reproductive health budget to $1 billion by using the debunked concept of a global “unmet need” for contraception.
Pathfinder International’s Safe Abortion Action Fund provides in-country support for initiatives that increase access to abortion services. The International Planned Parenthood Federation hosts this program and USAID supplies funding.
USAID also provides funding to DKT International–a direct provider of two abortion methods. A-kare is a mifepristone/misoprostol drug combination and MVA-kare is a manual vacuum aspiration surgical abortive device. DKT was founded by Philip D. Harvey, who founded America’s largest mail-order and online retailer of sexual toys and pornographic films.
Population Services International (PSI), which received $122 million in U.S. funding in 2012, provides family planning and reproductive health services in more than thirty countries. In India alone, the group delivers family planning and abortion services through emergency contraception and medical “Safe Abortion Kits.” Recently Catholic Relief Services was criticized for partnering with the organization on waters sanitation projects in developing countries.
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The USAID-funded GREAT Program, a joint initiative of Georgetown University’s Institute for Reproductive Health, PSI, and Save the Children, targets Ugandan teenagers promoting frequent masturbation as natural and the usage of all modern methods of contraception (including the morning after pill), while dismissing potential health risks and relying on teens to make their own decisions on engaging in sexual activity.
USAID’s flagship program, Strengthening Health Outcomes through the Private Sector (SHOPS), awarded a five-year $95,000,000 grant to six organizations. One was the abortion provider Marie Stopes International. The grant allowed Stopes to publish a primer that set guidelines for operating community-based health clinics in developing countries. Stopes reported they had provided 1.9 million abortion- and post-abortion services in 2011, performing 130,000 abortions in Ethiopia alone. In 2012, the group was banned from working in Zambia after it was discovered they were performing illegal abortions.
LifeNews.com Note: Lisa Correnti writes for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared in the pro-life group’s Friday Fax publication and is used with permission.