HOYER URGES SUPPORT FOR UNFPA AND HEALTHCARE FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN

For Immediate Release:

July 15, 2003

Contact:Stacey Farnen
202-225-3130

WASHINGTON – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) spoke today on the House Floor in opposition to the Smith/Hyde amendment to strip the Crowley amendment from the State Department Authorization bill (H.R. 1950), which reinstated desperately needed funding to the United Nations Population Fund. The funding is crucial for health care and education to improve the health of women and their families, and to address rapid population growth.
 
“Mr. Speaker, our colleague who offers this amendment (Mr.  Smith) – with whom I have worked over the years on the Helsinki Commission – is as passionate an advocate on the issue of abortion as there is in this body.  Today, however, the amendment he offers to strike the provision in this bill to restore funding for the United Nations Population Fund is woefully misguided.

“While some may believe that voluntary family planning is tantamount to abortion, I do not.  Nor, for that matter, do I believe that the vast majority of the American people agree with this proposition.  That fact of the matter is this issue is really not about abortion.  It is about the health of millions of women and children in some of the poorest nations on earth.

“The United Nations Population Fund is the single largest global source of multilateral funding for maternal health and family planning programs, supporting programs in 150 developing nations.  It helps mothers deliver healthy babies through pre-natal care and safe-delivery kits and counseling.  It enables couples to determine the number and spacing of their children through the voluntary – I stress “voluntary” – use of safe modern contraception.  And it reduces the incidence and prevents the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

“Let us be clear: the United Nations Population Fund does not provide abortion or abortion services anywhere in the world.  Not one penny of program funding is used to promote abortion. In fact, the UN Population Fund in China was developed with the express purpose of moving China away from coerced abortion and involuntary sterilization practice.  I urge my colleagues to vote against this amendment and to support the bipartisan provision offered by Mr. Crowley that was adopted in committee.  Today, we do not ask the proponents of this amendment to abandon their deepest principles on abortion.  They should not now ask us to put our heads in the sand and ignore the plight of millions of women and children.”

###