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The United States strongly supports voluntary family planning. But it does not support coercive family planning. That is why the U.S. has again decided not to provide financial aid to the United Nations Population Fund, even though the fund does much good work around the world.

But in China, says U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, some of the U-N Population Fund’s activities have had the effect of aiding coercive family planning programs, including coercive abortions:

“The circumstances of their operations are such that they are assisting the Chinese in managing their programs. These Chinese programs have penalties that amount to coercion. And therefore, we feel that by funding these programs, we would be indirectly helping the Chinese to improve their management of programs that result in coercive abortion, and that’s prohibited by our law.”

Passed by the U.S. Congress in 1985, the Kemp-Kasten amendment bans U.S. aid to any agency that “supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.” Secretary of State Colin Powell first determined in 2002 that the restrictions apply to the U-N Population Fund. The U.S. has repeatedly called on China to end coercive abortions. The U.S. has also urged the U-N Population Fund to restructure its activities in China in a way that would make the fund eligible for U.S. aid. So far, says Mr. Boucher, the necessary changes have not been made:

“We’ve talked to the Chinese many times about ending the kind of penalties, the kind of programs, the kind of laws and practice that we feel result in coerced abortions. . . . But essentially, the situation is the same as it was in years past.”

The thirty-four million dollars that the U.S. is withholding from the U-N Population Fund is a small fraction of total U.S. aid for women and children. Indeed, the U.S. continues to be the world’s largest donor of aid to improve women and children’s health. This year, the U.S. Agency for International Development will provide more than one-billion eight-hundred-million dollars through its Child Survival and Health Programs Fund. And more than four-hundred-million dollars of that aid is for reproductive health, including voluntary family planning.