In hopes of righting President Bush’s wrong of cutting funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), a citizen's initiative has been launched to replace the $34 million in funds meant to provide women’s and children’s health care services in 141 low-income countries. Lois Abraham of New Mexico and Jane Roberts of California have been circulating emails in the hopes of reaching "34 million friends" to urge them to contribute $1 or more. Checks have already started pouring into UNFPA’s office in New York – one person from Maine, who chose to remain anonymous, sent a check for $25,000 on Tuesday.
"This is an example of the commitment of the American people to be part of international efforts to improve the quality of life of families in developing countries, especially of women who are the immediate beneficiaries of UNFPA-supported [programs]," said Thoraya Obaid, UNFPA’s executive director, in a UNFPA press release. "We wholeheartedly welcome this support from the American public for the joint efforts of many countries to provide health services and prevent diseases."
The $34 million in funding that Bush withheld makes up 13 percent of the total funding for UNFPA’s international family planning programs – enabling UNFPA to prevent two million unwanted pregnancies, 4,700 maternal deaths, nearly 60,000 cases of maternal illnesses and over 77,000 cases of infant and child death.
Bush made this decision despite Secretary of State Colin Powell’s earlier endorsement of the UNFPA’s "invaluable work" and a report from 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." He instead based his decision on unsubstantiated claims from an anti-abortion extremist group that the UNFPA supports forced abortions in China.
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