To United Nations officials, Congressman Christopher Smith is
someone who could inadvertently prompt millions more abortions in
That charge is offensive to the pro-life New Jersey
Earlier this month he successfully led the fight to pass an
amendment to a $12.3-billion foreign-aid bill that blocks aid to
any family-planning organization that performs, supports, or
promotes abortions abroad. It also cuts off $25 million for the
UN's Population Fund (UNFPA) if that agency operates in China, a
nation with a one-child policy reportedly involving forced
abortions and sterilizations.
"We should have no part of that," says Mr. Smith's spokesman,
Ken Wolfe. "Not $1."
Blocked by a Supreme Court decision from banning abortion at
home, abortion-rights opponents have taken their battle back into
the area of foreign aid.
But to the UNFPA, charged with helping third-world nations
make reproductive health care and information accessible, a cutoff
of US funds would limit its family-planning activities.
And, says UNFPA spokesman Stirling Scruggs in New York,
"Family planning prevents abortions more than anything else."
On July 17, the Senate passed a $13.2-billion foreign-aid
bill which, though banning the direct financing of abortion, has
less restrictive language than the House bill.
A conference committee to iron out differences between the
House and Senate bills is planned for later this week. The task
won't be easy.
"The House and Senate have fundamentally different agendas,"
says David Gordon, a senior fellow at the Overseas Development
Council, a Washington think tank. "Their constituencies will be
hard put to compromise on this."
President Clinton has promised a veto if the bill includes
the tough Smith language on abortion.
The $25 million from the US would make it the sixth-largest
donor, after Germany, Japan, and some Scandinavian nations, and
cover 1/13th of UNFPA's budget. Since 1973, US law has banned the
use of foreign aid to fund abortion.
Between 1986 and 1992, Presidents Reagan and Bush enforced a
resulting policy banning US aid to groups that, they said, were
managing or comanaging organizations that pay for abortions or
provide information on abortions.
This cut off two major family-planning agencies, the
International Planned Parenthood Federation in London and the
Planned Parenthood Federation of America in New York. Some 400
other family-planning groups agreed to have nothing to do with
The day after he took office, President Clinton reversed the
Reagan-Bush decision, opening the way for the two agencies to win a
portion of the $385 million a year of bilateral US aid for family
planning programs in more than 60 nations. …