In anticipation of World Population Day this Friday, Congressman Joseph Crowley and Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Sachs will join policy experts this afternoon at an audio press conference to discuss restoring monies to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Despite President Bush’s persistent efforts to sabotage critical funding for international family planning programs, the US House Committee on International Relations in May passed an amendment to the FY 2004 foreign operations authorization bill (HR 1950) that would provide $100 million over the next two years for the .
Co-sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), the amendment is clear retaliation against Bush's decision last year to withhold $34 million from the UNFPA based on allegations by the right-wing Population Research Institute that agency programs in China used coercive family planning policies. In fact, the Crowley amendment revises the ambiguous Kemp-Kasten amendment used by Bush to justify his action, by stipulating that funding be denied to any organization that "directly supports or participates in coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization." Last month, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Crowley, and several other key lawmakers joined Jane Roberts and Lois Abraham, founders of the 34 Million Friends in calling for majority support when the measure goes for a vote in the full House.
The theme of World Population Day this year centers on adolescent reproductive health. "All young people have a right to health, including reproductive health, and the information and services to make this right a reality. This is especially urgent in the fight against HIV/AIDS. UNFPA supports national efforts to ensure that young people can make informed, responsible decisions and lead healthy, productive lives," stated UNFPA executive director Thoraya Obaid, according to the agency website.