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House Budget Proposal Threatens Family Planning

April 30, 2012

The U.S. House of Representatives last week approved a budget allocation plan that would reduce next year's foreign assistance budget by 9% percent.  This 9% cut would come on top of a 15% cut for non-war related diplomacy and development since FY2010. While the plan does not specify the level of funding for international family planning assistance, Congressional adoption of the House budget allocation could jeopardize the President's budget request.

If this budget allocation becomes enacted, it could have a significant impact on the amount ultimately set aside for international family planning assistance.  The Obama Administration has proposed $642.7 million for international family planning assistance in FY2013, a five percent increase that includes $39 million for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). With the overall foreign assistance budget taking a 9% reduction it is very unlikely that international family planning assistance would see an increase.

According to the Guttmacher Institute cuts in international family planning assistance would translate into real hardship for women and their families. For every $10 million cut:

  • 520,000 fewer women and couples would receive contraceptive services and supplies;
  • 150,000 more unintended pregnancies, including 70,000 more unplanned births would occur;
  • 70,000 more abortions would take place (of which 50,000 would be unsafe);
  • 400 more maternal deaths would occur;
  • 2,000 more children would lose their mothers

Robert Walker, the President of the Population Institute warned that cuts in international family planning assistance have profound impacts on the lives of women overseas. “Around the world there is a large unmet need for family planning. And while we understand that budgets are tight we need to keep in mind that investment in family planning and reproductive health 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.”

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