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U.S. support for international family planning and reproductive health programs could face potential cutbacks in the new Congress. And those cutbacks could occur sooner, rather than later.
Between fiscal years 2008 and 2010, U.S support for international family planning and reproductive health programs rose to $648 million, a 40 percent increase, but the momentum has stalled.
Before the old Congress adjourned last month, it approved a temporary funding measure that would fund the federal government through March 4, 2011. The stop gap funding measure was passed after the Senate failed to approve a House-passed omnibus appropriation bill that would have boosted funding in fiscal year 2011 to $710 million, a $62 million increase above the 2010 level.
Passage of the temporary funding measure means that funding for international family planning will remain at the 2010 level ($648 million) until March 4, or until the new Congress passes a permanent appropriation bill.
It's anticipated, however, that the new Congress will act soon to slash funding for a wide range of federal programs, including potential cuts in international family planning.
Robert Walker, Executive Vice President of the Population Institute, warned that “Any cutbacks in U.S. funding for family planning would have a disastrous impact on women and their families in the developing world. Expanding voluntary family planning is critical to reducing maternal and infant deaths, combating severe poverty, and protecting the environment. It would be penny-wise and pound foolish to deny women access to modern methods of contraception.”
The United Nations has set 2015 as the target year for achieving universal access to family planning and other reproductive health services. Walker warned, however, that the 2015 goal will not be reached if the U.S. retreats from its pledges. “Now more than ever,” Walker said, “family planning advocates need to make their voices heard.”