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Congress Rejects Large Cuts in International Family Planning Assistance

December 20, 2011

The omnibus appropriations bill approved by Congress this week froze bilateral international family planning assistance at last year’s level of $575 million, but cut funding for the United Nations Population Fund from $40 million to $35 million.  While the cut in funding for UNFPA is a setback, House opponents of family planning failed in their efforts to slash the funding levels by 25 percent.

The amount approved by Congress, however, fell far short of the $1 billion funding level proposed by family planning advocates.  Robert Walker, the President of the Population Institute, said, “There is still a large unmet need for family planning in the world.  With the largest generation ever of young people entering their prime reproductive years, the U.S. should be boosting its support for both UNFPA and country-to-country assistance.” 

While acknowledging the tight budget constraints facing Congress, Walker said, “Lawmakers need to recognize that family planning is an exceptionally cost-effective program. Investments in family planning and reproductive health do more than pay for themselves.   Measured in terms of improved health, reduced mortality, gender equality, educational attainment, and poverty reduction, family planning is one of the best investments we can make.”

Walker said, “I am very grateful for all those who spoke up this year on behalf of family planning and reproductive health.  All the phone calls, emails, petitions, and letters helped to educate Congress about the value of investing in women and girls and their reproductive health.”  Walker said that supporters of family planning should send a note of thanks to their leading Congressional advocates including Representatives Nita Lowey and Carolyn Maloney in the House,  and Senators Barbara Boxer and Frank Lautenberg in the Senate.

Walker warned, however, that “This is not the end of the fighting over family planning.  We’re expecting another intense struggle when Congress returns next year to begin work on the 2013 budget.  Our opponents are relentless. They are not going to give up.  Neither can we.”

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