Feb 8, 2000
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - This morning, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Democratic Chair of the Congressional Women's Caucus, received the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association's (NFPRHA) reproductive rights award: the Distinguished Public Service Award.

In the ceremony, Maloney was honored for her resolute work in the Congressional crusade to refund the United Nations Fund for Populations Assistance, for her constant advocacy of reproductive rights, and for her leadership in the Congressional Women's Caucus. Judith DeSarno, President of NFPRHA, said that Maloney was selected for the organization's prestigious award because of her "tireless work in the area of family planning and her commitment to women's health."

Below are excerpts from the Congresswoman's remarks at the NFPRHA ceremony:

"Thank you to NFPRHA and to the NFPRHA members from all over the United States for your hard work and support on our victory this past year in the refunding of the United Nations Population Fund. As you know, it was not an easy task. And, our road ahead on reversing the Global Gag Rule will be an even bigger challenge, but I know we can win provided we are clear on what we want and provided we work together.

"This past year has been for me one of the most rewarding and one of the most frustrating in my work to help women around the world have access to safe, quality and comprehensive reproductive health care.

"In October 1998, as a part of a back-room deal with Chris Smith and the anti-choice Republican leadership, the United Nations Population Fund, or UNFPA, was defunded in order to keep the government from shutting down. On the very next day, a small group of us at a press conference outside the Capitol Building began what became a crusade to restore funding for UNFPA and to raise the amount of support the United States gives directly to countries through USAID.

"This year, we were able to maintain a bi-partisan coalition of dedicated members of Congress and their staff to pass language in both the State Department Authorization and the Foreign Ops. Appropriations bills that restored our U.S. contribution to UNFPA. They said it couldn't be done, but we did it! And, it could have never passed without the support of people in this room who live and work in districts around the United States. It is your personal stories about the importance of family planning that made a difference.

"Thanks to the coalition of providers including NFPRHA (NIFF RA) and Planned Parenthood, environmentalists including the National Audubon Society, women's rights organizations such as the American Association of University Women and groups working on international family planning including Population Action International - we won by a margin of 221 to 198. And, I believe we can do it again, we have no choice.

"Fast forward now to the budget negotiations for fiscal year 2000 - last November. Again in a backroom deal, the Republicans held hostage UN dues and forced a global gag rule - for one year and hopefully one year only - on USAID funds. This provision would be unconstitutional if proposed in the United States. We need to be vigilant and make sure the Gag Rule never again appears in back room deals because if it does, we risk sending women again to the back alleys for services.

"I say we need to go "Back to the Future" on both funding levels for both UNFPA and USAID and on eliminating policy restrictions for how each agency can spend its money meaning no more global gag rule or country-specific cuts for UN programs.

"With the right investments, programs that combine reproductive health, women's empowerment and access to family planning, can and do make a difference toward success whether it is in preventing teen pregnancies here in the United States or saving women's lives around the world.

"Again, thank-you all for this award, it will be displayed prominently in my office for everyone to see and share. Now, it's on to a victory and Back to the Future in 2000."