Bush Urged to Scrap Funding for UN Population Control

By Matt Pyeatt | July 7, 2008 | 8:28 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - President Bush is expected to decide Wednesday whether to spend any or all of $34 million that has been appropriated by Congress for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), an organization that some conservatives criticize for promoting "contraception and abortion all over the world."

Congress passed the Foreign Operations spending bill in December, increasing UNFPA funding by 36 percent but setting a $34 million spending ceiling for the current fiscal year. Because of the spending ceiling, President Bush has the authority to determine how much, if any, of the money will be allocated.

Many conservative groups are urging Bush to opt for "zero funding for UNFPA."

"We would like to communicate to the White House our displeasure with the U.S. government funding this U.N. agency," Douglas Sylva, director of research at the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, said.

"We think the U.S. government should have no role in providing money to a group that promotes contraception and abortion all over the world," he said.

Conservative groups have been urging their allies to call the White House and lobby for zero funding for the UNFPA.

"This is democracy in action and we believe this is the way our voice can be heard," Sylva said. "We think it is very important that whoever doubts the wisdom of spending $34 million to promote forced abortions in China should call the White House and tell the White House how we feel."

Wendy Wright, communications director for Concerned Women for America, said her organization has been lobbying Congress and the White House on the UNFPA issue for a couple of years.

"The only reasonable response to the UNFPA is zero dollars," she said.

She also believes the White House will listen to those who call in and voice their disapproval of funding for the UNFPA.

"One thing that I understand is that this administration is very sensitive to how strongly people feel about issues. They are very sensitive to public expressions on issues to the White House," she said.

Sara Craven, spokeswoman for the UNFPA in Washington, said her organization is "working to save women's lives around the world."

Craven refused further comment on UNFPA funding and the possibility of a "zero fund" by President Bush.

However, the UNFPA does believe additional funds are needed. "With additional funds from the United States, UNFPA will be able to do much more to save women's lives around the world and to help improve the quality of life in poor countries," said UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya A. Obaid.

"The needs are urgent," she noted. "This year 5 million people were infected with HIV, half of them under age 25. Most do not know they are infected. Many millions more do not know how to protect themselves. Half a million women die each year from preventable pregnancy-related causes. And 350 million couples worldwide lack access to a range of contraceptive methods, resulting in millions of unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions and many thousands of maternal deaths."

Obaid said the United States has led the way in donating money to worldwide population efforts. "The United States has traditionally stood in the forefront of international donors in the population field. United States leadership is appreciated and especially important in encouraging donor nations to do their fair share," she said.

The White House was unavailable for comment.

See Earlier Story:

Taxpayer Tab for UN Population Control: $34 Million