WASHINGTON - July 23 - Statement
of Ralph G. Neas, President, People For the American Way:
The Bush administration’s
decision to withhold funding approved by Congress for the United Nations Population
Fund (UNFPA) is a deplorable game of politics that will affect the most vulnerable
people in the world. Scoring political points with the Religious Right at the
expense of poor women around the globe is an act of rank political expediency.
It is hard to imagine just what “compassionate conservatism” means
to this administration. By holding this funding hostage, the current administration
shows its true colors and demonstrates the significant impact the Religious Right
still has behind closed doors.
This decision isolates the United States from some of our closest allies. For
example, a British parliamentary delegation found no evidence to support the charges
made by the anti-choice Population Research Institute that the UNFPA tolerates
China’s coercive policies and involuntary abortions and sterilization. UNFPA
works in developing countries to save thousands of women and children’s
lives every year, prevent abortions, help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and promote
human rights through better reproductive health care.
When Bush signed into law the legislation that contained the $34 million, he
added the accompanying statement, “additional discretion to determine the
appropriate level of funding for the United Nations Population Fund” to
allow himself a way out. His actions are earning him praise from Religious Right
leaders. But his decision does not merit praise. It will undermine the UNFPA’s
ability to prevent the deaths of 4,700 mothers and 77,000 children under the age
of five. It will also undermine their ability to prevent 800,000 abortions and
jeopardize the agency’s AIDS prevention programs. The president has not
taken a stand for life when he is sacrificing millions of the world’s poorest
women and children for domestic political gain.