Attempts to Reinstate Funding for UNFPA
In a July 2003 attempt to free up the appropriation while addressing
critics’ concerns, Reps. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Barbara Lee (D-CA)
worked to clarify the Kemp-Kasten amendment. They inserted a provision
in the State Department authorization bill to prevent U.S. foreign aid
funds from going to programs that support coercive practices, but
allows funds to go to programs offering family planning services that
reduce abortion rates and counsel against coercive practices. But at
the urging of Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), a vocal opponent of family
planning and reproductive rights, and with strong support from the
White House, the House narrowly defeated this provision by a vote of
216-211 on July 15, 2003.
In a second attempt to secure a U.S. contribution to UNFPA, Rep. Joseph
Crowley (D-NY) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) offered an amendment on
July 21, 2003 that would have required a $25 million contribution to be
used only to prevent, treat, and repair obstetric fistula—a
debilitating but easily preventable consequence of childbirth
complications that primarily affects young women in the developing
world. As a result of extensive tissue damage, obstetric fistula causes
chronic incontinence and frequently results in women’s social
stigmatization and isolation (for more information about fistula, click
here). On a procedural, party-line vote, Reps. Crowley and Maloney were prevented from offering their amendment on the floor.
In 2005, several Members of Congress undertook new efforts to enable a
U.S. contribution to UNFPA while responding to the Administration's
concerns. In March 2005, during consideration of a bill that directed
emergency funds to countries affected by the tsunami, the House and
Senate drafted amendments to include a $3 million U.S. contribution to
UNFPA to support their work in the tsunami-affected region.
Specifically, the amendment would have supported UNFPA's efforts to
provide emergency obstetric care and other maternal health services,
protection against violence for women and youth in the affected areas,
and HIV/AIDS prevention. The amendment passed in the House, but was
dropped later in the legislative process.
Later that year, the Senate accepted two key provisions related to U.S.
funding for UNFPA. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) included an
amendment in the Senate Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill for FY
2006 intended to restore U.S. funding, provided the funds were directed
exclusively toward "non-controversial" reproductive health services:
preventing and treating female genital mutilation and obstetric
fistula, increasing the availability of birth control, and providing
pre- and post-natal care for mothers and children. The Senate Foreign
Operations Appropriations Bill also contains a provision seeking once
again to clarify the meaning of the Kemp-Kasten amendment so that it
specifically safeguards against U.S. funding for any organization that
"directly supports coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization."
Trying a new approach in 2006, Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI)
offered an amendment during a House committee's consideration of the
Foreign Operations spending bill that should the Administration once
again block funds for UNFPA's programs, the funds would be directed
specifically to UNFPA's obstetric fistula prevention
and treatment efforts. Opponents used weak arguments against the
amendment including that funding UNFPA would somehow support abortion
services (although no evidence was given to support such allegations).
The other, offered by the Republican leadership, admitted that if this
amendment to promote women's health were included in the bill, it would
make it challenging to get it passed by the full House, revealing the
lack of support in Congress at the time for these health services.
Failing to recognize and prevent the maternal health travesties caused
by obstetric fistula, the House Appropriations Committee rejected the