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In a major victory for supporters of expanded international family planning assistance, the House State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee on June 17, 2009, approved a $648 million appropriation for Fiscal Year 2010. The amount appropriated by the Subcommittee was 9 percent above the President's request of $593.4 million, and 19 percent about this year's level of $545 million.
If the full Congress approves the Subcommittee's recommendation, next year's funding level will be 40 percent higher than the FY2008 level, but still significantly below what is needed.
Earlier this year, five former directors of USAID's Office of Population and Reproductive Health recommended that Congress appropriate $1.2 billion in 2010 to help offset a long-term, real-dollar decline in U.S. support for international family planning assistance. In making that recommendation, the former directors cited both the large unmet need for family planning in the developing world, and USAID's ability to ramp up family planning programs with the support of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in this area.
The Population Institute's executive vice president, Bob Walker, praised the Subcommittee for supporting an amount higher than the President requested. "Chairwoman Nita Lowy, in particular, is to be commended for her leadership on family planning. She understands the many benefits that flow from expanding family planning and reproductive health services for women in developing nations."
"It's estimated," Walker said, "that every additional $100 million spent in family planning prevents 2.1 million unintended pregnancies, 825,000 abortions, 70,000 infant deaths and saves 4,000 maternal lives. Add to that the benefits in terms of educational attainment, the environment, and food security, and it's evident that the money spent on family planning is one of the best overseas investments the U.S. can make."