Statement by Ralph G. Neas, President
The Bush administration’s decision to withhold funding approved by Congress for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is a deplorable game of politics that will affect the most vulnerable people in the world. Scoring political points with the Religious Right at the expense of poor women around the globe is an act of rank political expediency. It is hard to imagine just what “compassionate conservatism” means to this administration. By holding this funding hostage, the current administration shows its true colors and demonstrates the significant impact the Religious Right still has behind closed doors.
This decision isolates the United States from some of our closest allies. For example, a British parliamentary delegation found no evidence to support the charges made by the anti-choice Population Research Institute that the UNFPA tolerates China’s coercive policies and involuntary abortions and sterilization. UNFPA works in developing countries to save thousands of women and children’s lives every year, prevent abortions, help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and promote human rights through better reproductive health care.
When Bush signed into law the legislation that contained the $34 million, he added the accompanying statement, “additional discretion to determine the appropriate level of funding for the United Nations Population Fund” to allow himself a way out. His actions are earning him praise from Religious Right leaders. But his decision does not merit praise. It will undermine the UNFPA’s ability to prevent the deaths of 4,700 mothers and 77,000 children under the age of five. It will also undermine their ability to prevent 800,000 abortions and jeopardize the agency’s AIDS prevention programs. The president has not taken a stand for life when he is sacrificing millions of the world’s poorest women and children for domestic political gain.