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When the U.S. House of Representatives returns next week from its July 4th recess, it is expected to consider a $103 million boost in the level of international family planning assistance. The proposed increase is part of a larger appropriations bill providing funding for State Department activities and U.S. foreign assistance programs.
In June, the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee and the full House Appropriations Committee both approved a $648 million appropriation for international family planning assistance for Fiscal Year 2010. The proposed $648 million funding level is nine percent above the President's request of $593.4 million, and 19 percent above this year's level of $545 million. If the full Congress approves the amount recommended by the House Appropriations Committee, next year's funding level will be 40 percent higher than the FY2008 level.
"The increase," according to Bob Walker, the Population Institute's executive vice president, is still "far below what is needed." Citing the $1.2 billion funding level recommended earlier this year by five former directors of USAID's Office of Population and Reproductive Health, Walker said, "Investments in family planning and reproductive health pays multiple dividends. Every $100 million spent in international family planning assistance prevents 2.1 million unintended pregnancies, and that translates into fewer abortions and major improvements in maternal health and infant survival rates. Family planning also makes a major contribution to women's empowerment, gender equity, food security, economic advancement, and the protection of the environment."
The full House of Representatives is currently expected to take up the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill on Wednesday, July 8, but it is not known yet whether any amendments will be offered related to family planning and reproductive health.