Supporting Forced Abortion

What are pro-UNFPA members of Congress doing in response? You might guess that they would be urging the UNFPA to abide by U.S. laws by withdrawing from China. Or that they would suggest to the population control organization that it moderate its drive to “achieve the lowest level of population in the very shortest period of time,” to quote former Executive Director Nafis Sadik. Or that they would urge, in the interests of families everywhere, that the organization simply abide by its own charter, which says that “couples have the right to determine for themselves the number and spacing of their own children.”

Nothing of the sort. Instead they are trying to change the law so that UNFPA's involvement in forced abortions would no longer disqualify them from U.S. funds. Senator Patrick Leahy and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney have both advanced legislation which would effectively gut the Kemp-Kasten Amendment. Leahy would actually reward UNFPA for violating U.S. law by increasing its funding to $50 million. You get the picture: Your friend has violated the law. But instead of trying to help your friend reform, you try and change the law so that your friend can continue his lawbreaking behavior.

The UNFPA itself remains unapologetic about its support of China's coercive one-child policy. In fact, it has just announced it will expand its operations in China. Nafis Sadik, the UNFPA's new China operative, says that “UNFPA and the Chinese Government are together developing the Fifth Country Programme, which will continue the reproductive health and family planning activities and will address new issues….”

The mainstream press has largely supported such pro-UNFPA propaganda. Dozens of newspaper op-eds have appeared in recent days — three in a row in The Washington Post — filled with false claims. Many say that Colin Powell was “forced” by the administration to recant his support for UNFPA. Others repeat UNFPA’s self-serving drivel that depriving the organization of $34 million will cost the lives of 4,700 women and more than 77,000 children.

We prefer to believe that Powell is a reasonable man who reviewed the evidence of UNFPA's involvement in forced abortions brought back by his own investigators and decided that U.S. taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize such atrocities.

Powell’s decision was based on solid evidence. In May, a three-member State Department fact-finding team traveled to China to take a close look at UNFPA's “model family planning programs” where it claims that “voluntarism” prevails and “women are free to choose the timing and spacing of their pregnancies.” Not true, concluded the team. The State Department delegation found that “in the 32 counties in which UNFPA is involved the population control programs of the PRC retain coercive

elements in law and practice.” Based on this, and other evidence provided by the delegation, the US State Department determined that UNFPA actually supports this coercion.

In one county, the team discovered that women who have more than one child are hit with a crippling fine equivalent to two or three years’ income. These “social compensation fees,” as they are called, are set high in order to force mothers to have abortions.

The use of fines to coerce abortions has been implemented more fiercely than ever in Guangdong Province in China since President Bush cut UNFPA funding. Sihui, in Guangdong, is where PRI investigated last September and found abuses of forced abortion, forced sterilization, mandatory use of IUDs, imprisonment of relatives, destruction of homes and crippling fines for non-compliance. UNFPA “works together” with the Chinese State Family Planning Commission in Sihui, but claims there is no coercion. The State Department delegation, however, visited Sihui and documented cases of coercion. In response, Guangdong “has raised fines for second children to eight times an offending couple's annual income.”

UNFPA also supplies computers and medical equipment to family planning offices engaged in coercive practices. According to the Powell report, “Not only has UNFPA failed to ensure that its support does not facilitate these practices; it has also failed to deploy the resources necessary to even monitor this issue. In the context of the PRC [People's Republic of China], supplying equipment to the very agencies that employ coercive practices amounts to support or participation in the management of the program.” Computers allow Chinese family planning officers “to establish a database record of all women of child-bearing age in an area and to trigger the issuance of 'birth-not-allowed' notices and the imposition of a social compensation fee.”

Powell stated that “UNFPA is helping improve the administration of the local family planning offices that are administering the very social compensation fee and other penalties that are effectively coercing women to have abortions.”

We couldn't have said it better ourselves. Our own investigation of the UNFPA's activities in China carried out in September of last year reached the same conclusion. Visiting a NFPA “model family planning program,” we found abuses to be “rampant and unrelenting.”

What has been the UNFPA response to this evidence, now confirmed by the U.S. State Department's own investigation, and even to more recent allegations that UNFPA supported forced sterilization in Peru? They are attacking the messenger — Population Research Institute — calling us “a fringe group” and worse (See also PRI's Weekly Briefing: “Peru: UNFPA Supported Fujimori's Forced Sterilization Campaigns”). They duck the real question: Why is UNFPA supporting a program of forced abortion in China?

Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to forcing a woman to terminate her pregnancy, robbing her womb of a wanted child. This is why seventeen years ago the Kemp-Kasten Amendment was passed and signed into law. Kamp-Kasten states that no U.S. foreign aid may be given to any organization that “supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.” Our Secretary of State has concluded that funding the UNFPA would violate this law.

We should all thank President Bush and his administration for his decision not to fund these “crimes against humanity,” as forced abortion was called by the Nuremberg Tribunals. We should thank him for his defense of Chinese women, victimized by UNFPA-supported forced abortion and for his defense of Kemp-Kasten. Bush's courageous decision will give pause to the masters of China's anti-natal program, and possibly save the lives of tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of women and children.

We expect the UNFPA and its allies will continue to attack PRI. But history will judge who is the real fringe organization.

Interestingly, in its report, the U.S. State Department delegation notes that during its extended meeting in Beijing, Minister Zhang Weiqing, Chairman of China's State Family Planning Commission, invited me “…Population Research Institute (PRI) President Steven Mosher … to visit the counties [where UNFPA operates], go anywhere, and see … there is no coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.”

Mr. Chairman, I'm on my way to apply for a visa.

Steve Mosher is the president of Population Research Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to debunking the myth that the world is overpopulated.

Steven W. Mosher


Steven W. Mosher is the President of Population Research Institute and an internationally recognized authority on China and population issues, as well as an acclaimed author, speaker. He has worked tirelessly since 1979 to fight coercive population control programs and has helped hundreds of thousands of women and families worldwide over the years.

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