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Catholics for a Free Choice Calls on President and Congress to Fund Family Planning

July 16, 2004

President urged to honor promise to use UNFPA funds for family planning; encouraged to fight sex trafficking with alternate source of funding

Statement of Frances Kissling, President, Catholics for a Free Choice

WASHINGTON, DC—We are deeply disappointed that the Bush administration has once again denied family planning funds to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN agency that has been proven to be most effective in saving women’s lives.  This decision puts the lives of thousands of women in the developing world at risk.

We are equally disturbed that the president intends to break his promise to use those funds for much needed family planning services and instead request that they be diverted to another purpose—the fight against sex trafficking.  While prosecuting sex traffickers and assisting women who have been trafficked is an important women’s and human rights issue, reducing maternal mortality and morbidity is an equally important policy matter and should not be sacrificed for any reason.

Today, we call on the president to keep his promise to use the UNFPA funds for family planning.  We call on the Bush administration to find funds to eliminate trafficking of women from some other source of revenue.  We call on Congress to refuse to allow the president to divert those funds from basic and essential health care services for women around the world.

We also express our disappointment with the decision of Secretary of State Colin Powell to invoke the Kemp-Kasten amendment against UNFPA.  Having traveled to China to investigate the claim that UNFPA is engaged in supporting a program of forced abortion in that country, I concluded that UNFPA does not support coercive elements in the Chinese family program.  UNFPA was and is the most effective antidote against coercion in the country.  The team sent by the State Department to investigate the same claims reached the conclusion that UNFPA should be funded, a conclusion the State Department has apparently rejected for political rather than humanitarian or ethical reasons.

Playing politics with women’s lives and heath is unacceptable.

–statement ends–