The House Foreign Affairs Committee voted 23-17 for legislation that would prevent $50 million in the foreign affairs budget from going to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) by prohibiting the secretary of State from making contributions to the controversial organization. It is estimated cutting funds to the UNFPA for the next 10 years would save about $400 million.
The panel's vote came two days before more than 100 House members wrote President Obama Oct. 7 to urge him to halt grants to the UNFPA immediately.
President Obama reinstituted support for the U.N. agency in 2009 after President Bush withheld funding during the final seven years of his presidency because of his administration's finding that the agency aided China's program, which is referred to as the "one-child policy." Obama has provided about $145 million to the UNFPA over three years.
After the Oct. 5 committee vote, Rep. Renee Ellmers, R.-N.C., the bill's sponsor, said the UNFPA "has been widely denounced for its involvement in China's one-child policy, which relies on forced abortion and sterilization. If the Chinese wish to do such things, they should not expect funding from the United States taxpayer."
China's government-mandated policy, which was instituted officially in 1980, generally limits couples in urban areas to one child and those in rural areas to two, if the first is a girl. Parents in cities may have second babies if the husband and wife are both only children.
Penalties for violations of China's population control policy have included fines, arrests and the destruction of homes, as well as forced abortion -- even in the final trimester -- and sterilization. Infanticide, especially of females, also has been reported.
"The one child per couple policy is inhumane and the most egregious systematic attack on women ever," said the congressional letter from Rep. Chris Smith, R.-N.J., and his colleagues. "All of us should be defending the women of China from this state-sponsored cruelty . . . not supporting and enabling it. Chinese victims -- especially women -- need advocates, not enablers."
The Chinese policy has produced a gender imbalance in the world's most populous country. The use of ultrasound technology has fueled this disparity. In a culture that favors males, parents often choose abortion when they learn their unborn child is a female. There are about 119 Chinese boys born for every 100 girls.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.
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