The Senate on Thursday approved an omnibus spending bill that included $34 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The House approved this bill (HR 2673), including the UNFPA funding, in December. UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Obaid thanked the US Congress, saying, "This critical funding will help save women's lives around the world, through the provision of voluntary family planning and reproductive health care." Obaid urged President Bush to allow these appropriated funds to be released so that the US "can rejoin all other industrialized countries in supporting UNFPA's work to promote voluntary family planning, safe motherhood, and HIV/AIDS prevention in the world's poorest countries."
The Bush Administration has refused to release UNFPA funding for the past two years based on false charges by the right-wing Population Research Institute that UNFPA supports coercive abortion in China. Bush cut funding to the UNFPA despite the fact that the Administration's own fact-finding team that found no evidence that the UN organization "has knowingly supported or participated in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in China."
The Administration has not yet announced whether it will withhold the UNFPA funding again this year, according to the Inter Press Service. However, Bush has said he will sign the spending bill, the LA Times reports.