Bishops' Aide Hails Vote to Halt Funds for a Program Linked to Forced Abortions

U.S. House Deals a Defeat to U.N. Population Fund

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JULY 17, 2003 (Zenit.org).- A U.S. bishops' aide applauded a vote by the House of Representatives to block $50 million in international family planning funds because of a link to China's forced-abortion policy.



"The House of Representatives has affirmed the dignity of women and their unborn children in developing nations," said Gail Quinn, executive director of the bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.

Quinn was reacting to the House's 216-to-211 vote Tuesday to retain U.S. policy against funding organizations involved in coercive population programs.

The vote was on the Smith-Oberstar-Hyde amendment to a State Department reauthorization bill. By approving this amendment, the House removed language from the bill that could have released $50 million to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA).

Critics say the UNFPA supports a Chinese population program that uses coerced abortion and involuntary sterilization, an accusation that UNFPA officials deny.

Quinn sided with the critics. "Coerced abortion has been condemned throughout the international community as a crime against humanity, and as an act of violence against women," she said.

"It is disappointing that almost half the members of the House were tempted to treat this human rights violation as something that can be ignored or finessed when pursuing business-as-usual with population control groups," Quinn added. "In the end, however, the House took the right action, and we hope the Senate will do so as well."

In its Friday Fax, the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute said the House vote "appears to show a significant shift in opinion regarding the legitimacy of UNFPA."

"The last full House vote on UNFPA was in 1999, during which UNFPA received a majority of support, 221 to 198," the group said.

According to U.S. Representative Christopher Smith, a co-sponsor of the amendment to remove the funding, continuing revelations of UNFPA's involvement in coercive population control programs, especially in China, have undermined U.S. political support for the agency, the Friday Fax noted.

During the debate this week, Smith said that "since 1979, the U.N. Population Fund has been the chief apologist for China's coercive one-child-per-couple policy ... the women of China are being oppressed with great impunity by their government."

Smith continued, "This debate is all about coercion. I would hope that my friends who support abortion would realize that coercion, whether it be forced sterilization or forced abortion, is an unconscionable act; and when it is done with impunity by the Chinese government with their partner, the U.N. Population Fund, we need to dissociate ourselves from that kind of activity."

Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities, had written to the House in strong support of the Smith-Oberstar-Hyde amendment. See www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2003/03-143.htm.