Refund the UNFPA? No way!

Steven Mosher
PRI Weekly Briefing
25 June 2004
Vol. 6 / No. 22
Reproduced with Permission

The U.N. Population Fund which spends a huge chunk of its money each year lobbying for more funds has launched a media blitz in the U.S. in support of yet another raid on the federal treasury. Standing in the way is the Bush administration's decision, reaffirmed last year for a second time, to deny funding to the U.N. group because of its involvement in China's one-child policy.

So we have the spectacle of "The New York Times" headlining that the U.S. is Trying to Isolate the U.N. Population Unit. Pity the poor UNFPA, runs the subtext, which is being blackballed by the Bush administration. It reminds me of the McCarthy era, whines Sterling Scruggs, longtime flak for the group. Next they'll be comparing Bush to Hitler.

The truth is, it's not the U.S. isolating the UNFPA, but the UNFPA isolating and marginalizing itself. For 25 years the UNFPA has been the chief international cheerleader for China's one-child policy, lavishing upwards of $200 million in funding on the program, and bestowing prestigious awards on its architects. How can an agency that calls itself pro-choice, that brags about promoting reproductive rights, justify involvement with a government that sterilizes and aborts women against their will, and usurps the right of parents to determine the number and spacing of their children?

But the complicity runs even deeper than this. Since 1998 the UN Population Fund has run model family planning programs in 32 Chinese counties, where it claims that there are no forced abortions, no targets for sterilizations, and no quotas for childbirths. These counties are free, the UNFPA assured us, of the abuses which characterize the one-child policy as a whole.

This fig leaf was exploded when PRI investigated a model family planning program. We found young women being ordered in for forced abortions, women facing arrest for the "crime of being pregnant without permission, and homes destroyed for refusing to comply with abortion or sterilization orders. (Visit our website for details All of this was happening under the very nose of the UNFPA desk officer responsible for the program.

If the UNFPA wants the U.S. to resume funding its programs, it should start by withdrawing from China. Its refusal to do so reveals its real agenda, which has less to do with reproductive rights than with a desire to drive down the global birth rate even further. It is, after all, the U.N. "Population" Fund.