If you've never heard of the UNFPA, or were unaware that the president had cut off the annual 34 million dollars in funding to their organization, let me give you the run-down: this branch of the UN didn't like China's forced abortion policy, so they went to the Chinese government and said, "We have an idea — contraception." So they began in eight provinces, then 10, and so on, and it was a complete success — no more pregnancies or forced abortions, and everyone was happy.
Then a handful of lunatics from Virginia, calling themselves PRI (Population Research Institute), got wind of this. As Christians against birth control, they believe that population control is not a problem for the planet, and that all six billion of us can be sustained on the resources from an area the size of Texas. So that means they're smart. Anywho, they sent a paralegal to China to investigate. She went out to provinces that were not yet part of the UNFPA program and listened to illiterate peasant women talk about ongoing forced abortion. Then she visited a government health office, saw an empty desk that a worker said belonged to the UNFPA, and somehow in her little Christian-fanatic mind, came the conclusion that the UNFPA program was encouraging abortions, forced or not. She took her delusions home to her partners (the company has never had more than six employees), who turned to Rep. Christopher Smith (R-New Jersey), who was equally outraged. He turned to the president.
Our government sent dozens of investigators to China. Other countries sent hundreds of investigators, altogether, to China. Not one found any evidence that the UNFPA had anything to do with abortions, only family planning and contraception. But with this administration and the right-wing Christians, who needs evidence or facts? Those pesky things are just obstacles to certain people stamping their feet and getting what they want — which is usually more women dead for having sex. So yadda yadda, the Bush cut off funding. Other countries laughed at us, shook their heads, searched their minds for how on Earth the leader of the free world could take the unhinged word of a very few over the professional opinion of many legitimates. Also, the childish few got their way, and women and children all over the world suffered and died unneccessarily. This was back in 2002, and it was certainly a sign of times to come in all things international.
This denial of funding backfired. Other countries stepped up with more aid to the UNFPA. Two American women decided to start the 34 Million Friends Campaign to convince 34 million people to give a dollar and make the world a better place. They raised twice that amount in the first year alone.
Now it's time for Bush to right a wrong and resume funding. Americans for UNFPA has started a petition calling for such an action. So, go, don't just sit there — sign it! via Feministing.
For more about the USA's unfortunate involvement with PRI, read Cristina Page's How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America.