Posted on | October 6, 2011 by Lisa Correnti |
On Wednesday the House Committee on Foreign Affairs voted to support H.R. 2059, a bill to stop taxpayer funding of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The bill introduced in May by Rep. Renee Ellmers (NC-2), was moved out of committee along party lines with a 23-17 vote.
Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18), praised the passage of H.R. 2059, which will prevent U.S. dollars from flowing to organizations that help enforce China’s one-child policy, an egregious violation of human rights.
“I am very pleased that the Committee passed this important bill to prevent U.S. taxpayer dollars from supporting coerce abortions and sterilization in China. These policies are an affront to humanity, and we should not be giving money to international organizations which support them,” said Ros-Lehtinen.
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NY), who presided over hearings last month to examine the impact of 33 years of China’s one-child policy commended the House panel in taking action to protect vulnerable women and children in China.
“Since 1979, brothers and sisters have been illegal in most of China. If a woman is caught pregnant without explicit government authorization to give birth, she is forced to abort. Unwed mothers are all compelled to abort. Handicapped unborn children, if discovered, are killed by the state. Ruinous fines—up to ten times the combined salary of both parents—jail, torture, property confiscation, loss of employment, education opportunities, housing and health care are all weapons aggressively used by the family planning cadres to ensure compliance,” said Smith.
The funding of UNPFA has been controversial for years due to resounding evidence suggesting its complicity in enforcing China’s one-child program, which subjects women to forced abortions and sterilizations. The Kemp-Kasten amendment, a pro-life rider attached to annual foreign appropriations bills since 1985, has helped prevent U.S. taxpayer dollars from flowing to international organizations that “supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.”
While the Kemp-Kasten amendment has greatly reduced the amount of tax dollars to UNPFA, the efficacy of the policy relies on its implementation, which is at the discretion of the current occupant of the White House and with Congress, so as to not alter the language of Kemp-Kasten during congressional debates on foreign appropriation bills.
During the original drafting of the Kemp-Kasten law in 1985, Rep. Jack Kemp’s (R-NY) did not include the words “as determined by the President of the United States.” Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI), who opposed the defunding of UNFPA, later had it inserted in the Senate to allow the president to determine whether UNFPA supports
or participates in China’s coercive population control program.
During the Reagan and Bush administrations all funding to UNPFA ceased with both presidents citing Kemp-Kasten to suspend funding. President Clinton resumed funding throughout his presidency except for the fiscal year 1999. Shortly after taking office in 2009, President Obama reinstated the funding announcing a $50 million increase to UNPFA after Democrats altered language to Kemp-Kasten for the FY 2009 Omnibus Bill, allowing the president to determine if UNFPA was supporting such programs. UNPFA has received $145 million during fiscal years 2009-11.
In July, during the mark up of the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2012, the Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) on International Justice and Peace, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, and Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), sent a letter to leadership of the Foreign Operations and Related Programs subcommittee asking that UNFPA be defunded.
“The USCCB, CRS, and many others in the faith community stand ready to work with leaders of both parties for a budget that promotes human life and dignity. As you consider appropriations language, we strongly support … denying funding to the U.N. Population Fund, which supports a program of coerced abortion and involuntary sterilization in China. It is also important to preserve the Kemp-Kasten provision, prohibiting support of organizations involved in programs of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.”
H.R. 2059 currently has 73 cosponsors. If passed in the House and Senate it will permanently prohibit any U.S. dollars from flowing to UNPFA, amounting to $400 million over the next 10 years.