Rep. Maloney: Bush Administration Turns Its Back on Women’s Needs for Sixth Straight Year
“I am deeply disappointed that the Bush administration has once again turned away from women by withholding funds provided by Congress for UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. This ill-advised decision will seriously harm millions of very poor women around the world who depend on UNFPA for family planning help.
“UNFPA works in 153 countries, including all of the very poorest and many that U.S. aid agencies do not reach. It is the single largest source of assistance for programs that help women space and time their pregnancies and deliver healthy babies. Its work is so respected that this year, 180 other nations have provided funding for the agency. They know UNFPA is a force for good. Once again, the U.S. stands alone.
“Every minute, a woman somewhere in the world dies needlessly from complications of pregnancy and childbirth, and another 20 women suffer injuries or long-term disability, such as obstetric fistula. UNFPA’s Campaign to End Fistula is the largest and most comprehensive effort to address this horrific but preventable condition.
“The timing of this decision is appalling. Next month, UNFPA officials will be among 2,000 world leaders at a conference in London called Women Deliver, seeking to create the political will to save the lives and improve the health of women, mothers and newborn babies around the world. A decision to reverse five years of erroneous decisions to de-fund UNFPA could have restored U.S. leadership in the eyes of the world on this critical issue. Instead, the Bush administration has once again turned its back on the planet’s poorest and neediest women.”
Since 2001, Congress has appropriated money to contribute to UNFPA each year, and each year the administration has withheld that contribution, invoking the Kemp-Kasten provision. The administration claims UNFPA supports the Chinese government in forced sterilizations and coercive abortions - a claim that was flatly refuted by the State Department’s own fact-finding team.
In the 109th Congress, Maloney and a bipartisan group of colleagues undertook a bold attempt to guarantee that the U.S.’s contribution to UNFPA would go through without the administration’s resistance, but it was defeated on the House floor.
Maloney has also led efforts to send the U.S.’s contribution to specifically aid the UNFPA’s Campaign to End Fistula. Obstetric fistula is a condition that arises from poor pre-natal care and results in horrific and debilitating vaginal and intestinal injuries in women and, often times, stillborn babies.