The significant budget cuts for global family planning and reproductive health programs being proposed by Republican legislators in the U.S. House of Representatives will mean more unintended pregnancies, more maternal deaths, more children who lose their mothers during childbirth and more abortions, a Democratic House member said.
Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.) argues U.S. foreign assistance for international family planning and reproductive health services provide benefits that are “tangible, cost-effective, life-saving, and critical for both the U.S. and aid recipients.” This is the reason she increased funding for international family planning and reproductive health when she was chair of the Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, she says. In fiscal 2010, $648 million was allocated for such programs.
For 2011, however, the Republican majority in the House originally proposed to reduce overall funding for international family planning to $440 million and ban U.S. funding for the United Nations Population Fund — the largest multilateral family planning and reproductive health provider in the world.
While the ban on U.S. funding for UNFPA was eventually taken off the proposal, and reductions to overall funding for international family planning was set to just 5 percent, significant cuts are being proposed anew for 2012. This includes a 25-percent cut to family planning and reproductive health programs and limitations such as the Global Gag Rule and ban on UNFPA funding.
“With the global population expected to surpass seven billion,” Lowey says, “We can only expect that the number of women with unmet need for family planning services, now an estimated 215 million women globally, will only increase. And unfortunately, so will the health disparities and instability that can result from allowing those needs to go unmet if Congress and the administration do not make this program a priority.”
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