For the seventh straight year, the United States government has decided to withhold $40 million earmarked for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) due to the organization’s support for China’s draconian one-child policy.As stipulated by a law known as the Kemp-Kasten Amendment, no US funds “may be made available to any organization or program which, as determined by the President of the United States, supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.”
Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte submitted a letter along with a report explaining the US decision not to fund UNFPA. The letter says “the United States opposes coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization. I have determined that by providing financial and technical resources…to [China’s] National Population and Family Planning Commission and related entities, UNFPA provides support for and participates in the management of the Chinese government’s program of coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization.”
China’s stringent population programs direct the state to adopt coercive measures to “control the size of the population and improve its quality.” These measures include setting strict birth limitation regulations, obligatory contraception services, mandatory abortion, involuntary sterilization and financial penalties, such as job loss and destruction of homes or property, to induce compliance.
The US State Department has reviewed UNFPA’s China country program annually since it first pulled UNFPA funding in 2002. The US has repeatedly appealed to UNFPA and its major donors to restructure UNFPA’s China country program so that it “no longer supports or participates in the management of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.” According to the US report, UNFPA remains ineligible for US funding since it continues to operate in areas of China “where coercive birth polices are in place and are enforced.”
Despite voluminous evidence to the contrary, UNFPA continues to deny that it supports abortion. A State Department press release about the decision to withhold funds states that the US “recognizes that UNFPA intends to promote a transition to voluntary family planning in China” and stipulates that UNFPA could to receive US funding if UNFPA “ended or reconstructed” its Chinese program “in a way consistent with U.S. law.” UNFPA funding might also be reinstated if China “changes its laws and practices such that UNFPA’s activities do not support a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.”
To the alarm of abortion advocates, the US report indicates that the application of the Kemp-Kasten amendment would extend beyond the UNFPA to other organizations working in China to ensure that no US funds go to supporting the Chinese government’s coercive population program. Of these other organizations, the report states that “relevant funding agencies are conducting a comprehensive analysis to determine what appropriate lawful actions can be taken.” It appears that more organizations may lose their US funding.
The US remains the world’s biggest donor to women and children’s health programs. The earmarked funds will be redirected to other programs such as the USAID Global Health and Child Survival account.