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CFFC in the News - 2003

agence france presse

Bush Must Ignore 'Right' on China Population Millions: Interfaith Group

19 November 2003

President George W. Bush must turn a deaf ear to supporters in the conservative Christian movement and stump up millions of dollars to support UN population programs in China, a multi-faith religious report said Wednesday.

Bush's decision last year to strip 34 million dollars in US funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) was misguided and harmful to family planning programs in China, the delegation grouping Muslim, Catholic and Jewish groups said in a new report.

The Bush administration withdrew the money, ruling that despite its denials, the agency backs or funds programs in China that coerce women into abortions.

"We urge the US government to change its policy and engage more directly and with greater assistance to the Chinese family planning program," said Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice.

"Will President Bush turn a deaf ear to the voices of leaders of religious and faith-based organizations who are not right wing?"

The delegation said that funding to the UNFPA should be restored, and called on the United States to drop what it said was a "punitive" approach to family planning in China.

"There is no involvement of the UNFPA in anything that is remotely coercive within China and in fact they are engaged in creating a quality of care, women centered, choice oriented programs," said Kissling.

The group also called on the UNFPA to reach out directly to the US public and to religious communities within China.

Wednesday's interfaith report emerged out of a trip to China by nine religious leaders and ethicists in September.

The group delivered their findings to the White House and the State Department as Congress finalizes the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, which provides funding for US programs abroad and contributions to international bodies.

The Bush administration last year said the decision to cut the 34 million dollars in funding for the UNFPA was based on a legal analysis of a report conducted by a three-person independent team sent to China to probe the agencies work.

"After careful consideration ... we came to the conclusion that the UN Population Fund monies go to Chinese agencies that carry out coercive programs," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher last year.

The department said that legal analysis of the report found that the UNFPA still fell foul of legislation known as the Kemp-Kasten amendment passed in 1985, which denies funding for projects involving coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.

The investigative report found no evidence that the UNFPA knowingly supported or took part in a program of coerced abortion of involuntary sterilization in China -- and recommended the 34 million should be released by the US government.

The decision followed a vigorous campaign by conservative and anti-abortion groups against UNFPA funding.

This article courtesy of Agence France Presse.