UNITED NATIONS, Jan 27 (Reuters) - The U.N. family planning
agency could see the United States pay at least 10 percent of its
budget following U.S. President Barack Obama's decision to
restore funding, the agency's head said on Tuesday.
Obama announced the decision on Friday, reversing a policy of his
predecessor George W. Bush, who banned U.S. government funding
for family planning services by clinics or groups that offered
abortion services or counseling in other countries.
The U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) says its does not promote or
support abortion. But Bush ended funding for it in 2002, saying
it supported a one-child-per-family policy in China that was
carried out partly through enforced abortions. UNFPA denied that
it did so.
UNFPA executive director Thoraya Obaid said Obama's action would
"provide support to women in the poorest countries of the world."
She told a news conference that discussions in the U.S. Congress
for proposed funding to UNFPA ranged between $40 million and $60
million per year. The agency has a core budget of some $430
million and the largest contributor since the United States
stopped funding has been the Netherlands.
UNFPA says Bush's annual blocking of funding that had been
approved by Congress cost the agency a total of $244 million. In
most years, Congress approved $34 million.
Agency officials said that money could have prevented 2 million
unwanted pregnancies and nearly 800,000 abortions each year
through family planning programs. It also would have prevented
maternal deaths and illnesses and helped fund information
campaigns and condoms to combat AIDS.
Obaid said the death rate from pregnancy and childbirth had
declined by just 1 percent worldwide between 1990 and 2005.
Progress on maternal health was the least advanced of any of the
eight Millennium Development Goals laid out by the United Nations
in 2000 for achievement by 2015.
UNFPA says its programs in 154 countries promote family planning
through effective contraception and counseling, prenatal and
obstetric care for all pregnant women and prevention of sexually
transmitted infections. It also campaigns against fistula, a
"We welcome the opportunity to work with the United States again
as a full partner," Obaid said.
(Editing by Xavier Briand)