GOP To Shut Down Government Over Mythical United Nations Financing of Abortions

Planned Parenthood is getting all the attention because Americans know what it is and use their services, but the Planned Parenthood rider isn’t the only plank in the right’s war on reproductive health services that’s holding up negotiations. Republicans, led by Chris Smith of New Jersey, also have a rider about the United Nations Population Fund, which they don’t like because it funds abortion even though it doesn’t fund abortion:

I spoke with Sarah Craven of the United Nations Population Fund moments ago. She, once again, reiterated that UNFPA does not fund abortions. After all, she said, UNFPA is a part of the UN–and there are several UN members states in which abortion is still illegal. Beyond that, UNFPA’s steering document specifically excludes abortion as a method of family planning under UNFPA’s mandate. If that were not enough to convince you that U.S. funds to UNFPA does not go toward promoting or conducting abortion, the U.S. Congress has passed several pieces of legislation since the 1970s specifically stipulating that no U.S. funds can in anyway support abortion overseas.

Still, several members of Congress–most notably Chris Smith of New Jersey–are somehow convinced that UNFPA promotes abortion. Specifically, they are concerned that UNFPA abets China’s one child policy. This is false, but you don’t have to take my word for it. In 2001, the Bush White House sent a fact finding team to investigate UNFPA in China and found, “no evidence that UNFPA has supported or participated in the management of a programme of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in China.”

This won’t get people as riled up, but realistically the harm done to public health here is probably bigger than with Planned Parenthood since UNFPA’s work is concentrated in places that are so much poorer.