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The House State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee today approved $461 million for international family planning and reproductive health programs. This represents a 25% cut in U.S. international family planning assistance for FY2012. The decrease was approved as part of a larger appropriation bill for the State Department and U.S. foreign assistance programs.
This bill, as passed, would also ban the U.S. from giving any funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and would reinstate the global “gag rule” that President Obama repealed by executive order during his first month in office. The gag rule prevents foreign organizations receiving U.S. family planning assistance from using their own non-U.S. funds to perform abortions, refer patients for an abortion or even provide counseling on abortion as an available option in countries where abortion is legal, and it prevents them from advocating for its legalization in countries where it is not.
The Guttmacher Institute this week calculated the costs of cutting U.S. family planning assistance by 25% and found that it would lead to:
· 9.4 million fewer women and couples receiving contraceptive services
· Almost 3 million more unintended pregnancies
· 1.3 million more abortions (mostly unsafe)
· 1.3 million more unplanned births
· 7,700 more maternal deaths
The decrease, ban on UNFPA funding and legislative reinstatement of the global gag rule are still subject to the approval of the full House Appropriations Committee, and the full House and Senate.
Robert Walker, Executive Vice President of the Population Institute, described the Subcommittee’s action as “the latest salvo in an escalating attack on women, family planning, and reproductive health and rights.” He warned that cuts in reproductive health services would needlessly undermine the health and welfare of the poor in developing countries. “Family planning,” he noted, “is perhaps the most cost effective of all U.S. aid programs. These proposed cuts and restrictions would cost numerous lives and save little or nothing in the way of taxpayer dollars.”