Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Historic Increase to International Family Planning!!

I have managed to peel myself away from obsessively following developments on the ground in Iran (revolution!!) to report on some great news from Capitol Hill this morning.

The House State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee approved $648 million for bilateral and multilateral funding for family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) programs!! This funding level would represent the largest amount ever for these programs in US history.

My colleague at Population Action International (PAI) has the breakdown of the numbers for us:

The $648 million includes $588 million for the bilateral FP/RH programs of USAID and $60 million for a U.S. contribution to the UN Population Fund. The subcommittee proposes that entire UNFPA contribution be funded out of the State Department’s International Organizations and Programs account, a change from the FY 2009 legislation in which a significant portion of the UNFPA contribution was drawn from bilateral accounts. The $648 million level proposed for FY 2010 represents a major increase:

· 19 percent above the FY 2009 appropriated level of $545 million:

· 9 percent above the President’s FY 2010 budget request of $593.4 million; and

· over the last two years, a 40 percent increase over the FY 2008 appropriation of $464.2 million (post-rescission).

While this is very, very good news, especially given the current economic climate, it is not near what is actually needed to save as many women's lives on the ground as possible.

The current "ask" from the International Family Planning Coalition here in Washington, in which Feminist Majority plays a key role, and I spend a good 70% of my time working with, is a $1 billion. The actual global shortfall is close to $3.5 billion from what was promised at Cairo.

So while we welcome this increase with open arms :), we need to start seeing even more substantial increases in US assistance to international family planning. Why? Because we already know what to do to stop the needless suffering and deaths of the hundreds of thousands of women who die every year from pregnancy related complications. Why? Because saving women's lives is not up for negotiation.


Melissa said...

Don't be too happy. The bill still includes Kemp-Kasten (Mexico City). You can read Nita Lowey's ode to bipartisanship and respect for her ranking member in her statement on the subcommittee's website. She remains personally committed to repealing the policy? Well, then take up the right to do so, as subcommittee chair, as feminist, and as a member of the majority.

Anushay Hossain said...

Yes Kemp-Kasten and UNFPA funding restrictions are still in, but this post highlights funding increases.

The below is an email from my colleague at PAI. Welcome to the world of politics! ;)

On the policy issues, it is our understanding that the bill leaves the status quo in place with regard to the Global Gag Rule and restrictions on the UNFPA contribution. This was difficult tactical decision—made reluctantly by the leadership and the subcommittee—reflecting serious concerns about rounding up sufficient votes for final passage of the bill on the House floor and seeking to secure the support of “pro-life” Democrats and fiscally conservative Blue Dogs, expecting near unanimous Republican opposition on the overall funding total. This decision may have been influenced by last week’s experience with the floor debate on the State Department authorization bill as well.