Page 40 - Foreign Service Journal - April 2012

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need of all those families. (Countries
that received U.S. family planning aid
and have already reached stability be-
tween births and deaths include In-
donesia, Mexico, South Korea and
Over the past decade, even as total
U.S. foreign aid tripled to more than
$20 billion a year, family planning as-
sistance actually fell to $460 million by
2008. For example, $244 million in aid
over eight years to the U.N. Fund for
Population Activities was cut after U.S.
officials declared there had been some
sharing of space by UNFPA and Chi-
nese officials accused of forced abor-
tions and sterilizations.
There was a time when prominent
Republican leaders, including George
H.W. Bush (both as a member of Con-
gress and president), supported family
planning; some, such as Representative
Frank Wolf, R-Va., still do. But since
the Reagan administration, most con-
servatives have moved to tighten re-
strictions on access to family planning.
For instance, the so-called “Mexico
City rules,” first issued in 1984, prevent
any group receiving U.S. funds from
even discussing abortion with families
getting birth control aid. (The use of
such aid for actual abortions has been
illegal since the 1973 Helms Amend-
ment.) Also called the “gag rule,” that
policy has regularly been imposed by
Republican administrations and an-
nulled by Democratic ones.
Due to the economic downturn,
U.S. family planning assistance, which
climbed to $648 million in Fiscal Year
2010, dropped to $615 million in FY
2011 and $610 million in FY 2012. The
administration has requested an in-
crease to $643 million in its FY 2013
budget, but prospects are not encour-
aging. House Republicans have al-
ready voted three times to cut interna-
tional family planning, notes Boonstra.
Last year alone, these funds:
• Provided contraceptives to 39 mil-
lion women and couples
• Prevented 12 million unintended
pregnancies and five million unplanned
• Prevented five million abortions
(four million of them unsafe)
• Prevented 33,000maternal deaths.
F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / A P R I L 2 0 1 2
Most population growth is
occurring in the poorest
countries on earth, which
cannot feed and educate
their current inhabitants.
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