Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Pro-Life Shot in the Foot

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Pro-Life Shot in the Foot

Article excerpt

PRO-LIFE members of the US House of Representatives recently caused funding for international voluntary family planning to be cut by 85 percent for this fiscal year, ostensibly to reduce abortions worldwide. The Senate had to pass this drastic cut without benefit of debate or amendment to avert another government shutdown.

The cuts reflect a rejection of common sense about preventing unwanted pregnancies and abortions; a denial of decades of scientific, social, demographic, and statistical analysis; and a measure of contempt for the poor.

The US Agency for International Development (AID) has played an integral role in promoting international voluntary family-planning efforts. American funding has helped to enable people to decide the number and spacing of their children, to improve reproductive health, and to reduce population-growth rates to more sustainable levels. More important, the US program has proven highly effective in reducing the abortion rate in countries that previously had high rates.

For example, in Hungary, where voluntary family-planning services were introduced eight years ago, the abortion rate has dropped by 60 percent and continues to fall. Although programs in Russia and in the new independent states, where women on average have between four and eight abortions, are too new to be reliably assessed, we expect similar success. Unfortunately, drastic funding cuts jeopardize these accomplishments.

The 85 percent cut will result in, at a minimum, 4 million more unintended pregnancies every year, tens of thousands of deaths among women and young children annually, and 1.6 million more abortions, according to a recent analysis by a coalition of experts, including the Alan Guttmacher Institute.

A concern has been raised that funding is being used to promote abortion. However, AID is explicitly prohibited by law from performing or counseling for abortions. …

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