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In his proposed budget for fiscal year 2012, President Obama requested $769 million for international family planning and reproductive health programs, a 19 percent increase in the $648 million appropriated level currently in effect. The President request includes a $47.5 million for the United Nations Population Fund. While the President’s request falls short of the full $1 billion requested by family planning advocates, it demonstrated the Administration’s continuing commitment to meeting the family planning needs of women and men in the developing world.
In response to the President’s budget, Robert J. Walker, Executive Vice President of the Population Institute, said, “Even in an era of budget austerity, international family planning and reproductive health programs are critically important. They may be the most cost effective investments we can make in the developing world. Every dollar we spend in this area more than pays for itself in terms of saving lives, improving health outcomes, fighting poverty, and reducing hunger.”
The President’s budget is expected to face strong opposition in Congress, particularly in the House of Representatives, where the Republican leadership has proposed steep cuts in discretionary spending. Within the next few weeks, Congress will have to pass another budget measure for the current fiscal year. International family programs are currently funded at last year’s level ($648 million) under a temporary funding bill approved by Congress last year, but that measure expires on March 4, 2011. Opponents of family planning are already gearing up to slash funding.
Walker said, “This is no time to retreat on family planning and reproductive health. We have to let Congress know that family planning is an investment in the future of the developing world, not a wasteful extravagance.”