Bush Opposes Funding Forced Abortions [in China]
For The Week Of February 05, 2002
President George Bush has decided to halt $34 million in funds to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) after hearing evidence that the UNFPA has been financing forced abortions in China. The UNFPA and the Chinese government have both claimed that abortions are voluntary in China and that coercion is not used. However, according to investigations by the Population Research Institute (PRI), China's one-child policy regularly forces unlawfully pregnant women to either seek abortions or face prison, fines, or the destruction of their property.
Since 1973, the Helms Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 has prohibited the U.S. to fund abortions in foreign countries. In 1984 President Reagan also mandated the Mexico City Policy, which requires " nongovernmental organizations to agree as a condition of their receipt of Federal funds that such organizations would neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations. " Bush has made stands to back these laws, as well as to stop funding an agency that supports what Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) has called, " some of the most abhorrent population control programs in existence " .
The UNFPA has provided China with assistance since 1979, and in 1998 signed a four-year agreement with Beijing to provide $20 million for Reproductive Health and Family Planning in 32 Chinese counties. While the part of the purpose of the UNFPA funding is to provide Chinese women and families with maternal health care and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, their strongest efforts are made in providing 'family planning services' - which largely includes promotion of contraceptives, sterilization, the use of IUDs and abortion.
While the local authorities in all 32 counties had agreed there would be no coersion and that birth quotas would be lifted, PRI investigators spent four days interviewing Chinese women and capturing their testimonies on audio and videotapes and notebooks. Their testimonies told a very different story.
One woman became pregnant when her first sterilization did not work and was forcibly sterilized a second time by family planning doctors and officials. She told PRI that if she had refused, her house would have been torn down by family planning officials. Another woman, a 19 year old who had become pregnant before the lawful age of 23, went to an abortion clinic because the law mandated it. However, her friends said that she would have kept her child if she were allowed to. PRI also discovered that there were mandatory examinations to make sure women did not remove their IUDs and that severe penalties were placed on those who violated the policies. Many women hide their children and their pregnancies to avoid abortions and to avoid punishment for having more than the lawful number of children. Violators or their family members are imprisoned and fined, and their houses and belongings are destroyed with jackhammers.
After the hearings that brought these things to light, the UNFPA sent investigators into China to spend five days interviewing Chinese governmental personnel and people on the street and they determined that there was no coercion or abuse at all. However, they apparently spent most of their times visiting the government officials and going out to lunch, and very little time on the street with the people. When they did go out on the street, they were accompanied by Chinese officials which added an intimidation factor. The PRI investigators spoke to the women privately so that they were free to speak their minds.
UNFPA's reaction should be of little surprise, as they have regularly visited many struggling countries and have rarely provided true medical assistance and relief. Instead, they have preferred to hand out reproductive kits, such as the ones they handed out to Kosovar refugees. These packages contain a condom kit, a post rape kit, an oral and injectible contraceptive health kit, a kit to help manage complications caused by abortions, and a vacuum aspirator kit for performing abortions. As the Kosovar women are Muslims, they are proud to have large families and do not believe in abortions. Yet, this is the aid the UNFPA chose to give these refugees.
By both its name and actions, the UNFPA has shown itself most interested in dealing with the world's population 'problem', and less with providing health care to needy people - even to violating the basic human rights of women across the world. President Bush's decision to zero out all the UNFPA funding in the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill is appropriate both in obeying U.S. law, and in respecting women's rights.
China is Furious as Bush Halts UN 'Abortion' Funds - The Telegraph
Coercive Population Control in China: New Evidence - Population Research Institute (PRI)
Chinese Region 'Must Conduct 20,000 Abortions' - The Telegraph
China - UNFPA
UN Report Claims No Coercive Practices in China, Report Disputed by Experts - Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute
Restoration of the Mexico City Policy - Whitehouse.gov