International Family Planning Programs: Issues for Congress [March 16, 2012]   [open pdf - 309KB]

"Since 1965, the U.S. government has supported international family planning activities based on principles of voluntarism and informed choice that gives participants access to services and information on a broad range of family planning methods. U.S. family planning policy and abortion restrictions have generated contentious debate for over three decades, resulting in frequent clarification and modification of U.S. international family planning programs. Given the divisive nature of this debate, U.S. funding of these programs will likely remain a point of contention during the 112th Congress. In 1984, controversy arose over U.S. family planning assistance when the Ronald Reagan Administration introduced restrictions that became known as the 'Mexico City policy.' The Mexico City policy required foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to certify that they would not perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning--even if the activities were undertaken with non-U.S. funds. Presidents Reagan and George H. W. Bush also suspended grants to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) due to evidence of coercive family planning practices in China, citing violations of the 'Kemp-Kasten' amendment, which bans U.S. assistance to organizations that, as determined by the President, support or participate in the management of coercive family planning programs. President Bill Clinton resumed UNFPA funding and rescinded the Mexico City policy in 1993. In 2001, however, President George W. Bush reapplied the Mexico City policy restrictions. The Bush Administration also suspended U.S. contributions to UNFPA from FY2002 to FY2008 following a State Department investigation of family planning programs in China. In January 2009, President Barack Obama issued a memorandum rescinding the Mexico City policy. The President also stated that the United States would resume U.S. contributions to UNFPA."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33250
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