Lawmakers Introduce Bill That Would Appropriate $134 Million To UNFPA, Say ‘Mexico City’ Policy Will Hinder HIV Prevention
Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) on Thursday at a Population Action International news conference to mark International Women's Day announced the introduction of a bill that would authorize $50 million for 2003 and $84 million for 2004 to go to the United Nations Population Fund, U.N. Wire reports (Hope, U.N. Wire, 3/7). In October 2002, the Bush administration redirected $34 million in funding from UNFPA to the U.S. Agency for International Development's Child Survival and Health Programs Fund. The $34 million in international family planning funding was originally appropriated to UNFPA in a $15.4 billion fiscal year 2002 foreign operations bill that was approved by Congress and signed by President Bush in January 2002. However, the administration in July decided to permanently withhold the funding from UNFPA, citing allegations that the organization "tacitly perpetuates a 'one-child' policy in China that has led to abortions and sterilizations against women's will" (Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 10/1/02). At the event, Maloney also released a "timeline" of the administration's actions that have "adversely affect[ed] women," including the reinstatement of the so-called "Mexico City" policy, which prohibits federal aid from going to groups that perform or discuss abortion. "More than half a million women die every year from pregnancy-related causes, more than double this number die of AIDS," PAI President Amy Coen said, adding, "These tragedies are preventable with access to quality reproductive health care. Yet, at every turn, the current U.S. administration appears to want to block access, apparently to appease a handful of anti-contraceptive and anti-condom extremists" (U.N. Wire, 3/7).
'Expanding the Reach' of Mexico City
Maloney also pointed to the administration's plan to "expand the reach" of the Mexico City policy, also known as the "global gag rule," to Bush's proposed $15 billion global AIDS initiative (U.N. Wire, 3/7). The policy -- which was originally implemented by President Reagan at a population conference in Mexico City in 1984, removed by President Clinton and reinstated by Bush on the first day of his presidency -- "bars U.S. money from international groups that support abortion, even with their own money, through direct services, counseling or lobbying activities." Under the policy, outlined by a senior Bush administration official in a Feb. 11 memo to the State Department, social services groups that provide abortion services would have to administer AIDS programs separately from family planning programs in order to receive funds from the administration's new AIDS initiative (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/6). Lee said, "Any such extension of the gag rule ignores the realities for many who are infected with HIV and would greatly hinder the effectiveness of HIV/AIDS programs" (U.N. Wire, 3/7). Hilary Mulenga Fyfe, chair of Zambia's Family Life Movement, a faith-based group that opposes abortion and promotes abstinence, said, "The gag rule has changed everything and taken us 100 years back" (Cocco, Long Island Newsday, 3/11). Fyfe added, "Even though we are not involved in abortion, the U.S. government, the missions abroad, are not really sure who is involved and who not to give the funding to. So every (organization) dies in the process" (U.N. Wire, 3/7).