One of the major pro-life victories in the U.S. under Ronald Reagan was the initiative known as the Mexico City Policy. This policy, which went into effect five years ago, prevents American foreign aid agencies from funding any “family planning” organizations which promote and perform abortions overseas or support or participate in programmes which include coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.
This policy hit such organization as the United Nations’ Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). The UNFPA lost its funding because it is heavily involved in the one-child, forced-abortion, policy in China. IPPF lost out because its major goal is to legalize abortion throughout the world, hidden behind the verbal smokescreen of supporting “reproductive rights.”
Predictably enough, the Mexico City Policy has been lobbied against by the population-control enthusiasts, who are constantly trying to have it overturned. President Bush, however, has so far supported the Reagan Policy. Late last year he vetoed the entire Foreign Aid Appropriations Bill after Congress passed an amendment which would have restored U.S. funds to the UNFA, as long as the money was not spent in China. The point being, of course, that even if American funds were spent elsewhere it would still allow other funds to be sent into China.
The Mexico City Policy should not be interpreted as being against voluntary family planning; it is against abortion and involuntary sterilization and contraception. The funds removed from UNFPA and IPPF have been allocated to organizations which do not force family planning on individuals.
Canadians should not relax and think this is an American battle with no relevance here. We fund both the UNFPA and IPPF very generously. Indeed, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) Report for 1987-88 announced proudly that we are the sixth-largest contributor to UNFPA, with a “core” contribution of $12.5 million in that financial year. (I suspect that “core” indicates that there are a lot more dollars flowing UNFPA’s way through other government agencies or programmes.)
IPPF gets Canadian funding through CIDA ($8.2 million in 1989-90). I have a fact sheet on IPPF that states the total contribution to IPPF through CIDA and international non-government organizations from 1975 to the present totals $105,105,000. We contribute to the World Bank, which funds IPPF through its development programmes. We give money to the Canadian Planned Parenthood Federation (PPFC), which in turn contributes to the international federation. PPFC’s funding comes through CIDA ($936,422 since 1969) and through Health and Welfare ($7.23 million since 1969). In addition, provincial governments also fund PPFC.
The federal government says it does not contribute directly to China’s population programmes, which does not mean we do not give financial aid to China for other purposes. It could be argued that in this way we do contribute to China’s vile abortion policy. And we do give money to IPPF. Last December, the Minister of External Relations told the House of Commons that IPPF gave (U.S.) $920,000 to its Chinese affiliate.
I think it’s about time we started to question government funding of “family planning” and “population” programmes. This does not mean we should be against helping the lesser-developed countries to decrease infant mortality and maternal deaths. We can, and must, give aid to help these countries improve living conditions for families.
But the idea that our foreign aid supports the Chinese government’s stand on forcing women to abort, or that we support other governments who sterilize women, sometimes without their knowledge or consent, is repugnant. Nor can we support research programmes which exploit the ignorance and poverty of third-world women to “test” the latest contraceptive device.
Do we have a right to fund organizations that go into poorer countries to undermine their laws and change their cultural values? Surely we should insist that our aid be given only to organizations that will respect cultural and religious differences, instead of imposing our morally-bankrupt values on others.
We must remember that foreign aid comes out of our taxes. It’s our money and we have a right to know how it is being spent.