Congress and International Family Planning: The Good and the Bad

Dec 23rd, 2011 | By | Category: Family Planning

Photo: Creative Commons

By Suzanne York for, Dec. 22, 2011

You wouldn’t know it from the news, given the focus on the payroll tax cut, but international family planning funding has squeaked through the 2012 omnibus spending bill without being drastically cut. This despite Republican threats to do so.

The most cost-effective way to deal with carbon emissions, gender inequality, political instability, and many of our other problems is to empower women to choose the size of their families. Despite hard economic times here in this country, it really makes sense to keep an eye on our best long-term investments and planning. But U.S. congressional politics doesn’t make that easy.

For next year the U.S. has allotted $610 million in bilateral and multilateral funding for international family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH)

The breakdown:

  • $575 million in bilateral funding for international family planning and reproductive health (same as 2011)
  • funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) decreased from $40 million to $35 million (this money can’t be spent in China or used for abortion services)

The Republican House had initially voted to cut international FP/RH by 25 percent. This bill represents a compromise – the Obama administration had requested $769 million and the House had passed only $461 million. It’s good they at least kept bilateral funding at the 2011 level, but it’s disappointing to see UNFPA funding, which has quite effective programs, decreased.

Most population and family planning/reproductive health organizations want to see money for family planning increased to $1 billion. This would adequately fund programs to reduce maternal and newborn mortality, reduce unintended pregnancies and increase the awareness, acceptability, and use of contraceptives.

For the time being, we’re relieved to escape the chopping block. But we will have to work that much harder in our education and outreach efforts to convince fellow citizens and our representatives on why funding this is critical for women, families, communities and the environment.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.