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A brilliantly clear choice

By Connie Marshner
web posted January 14, 2002

In all the hurry and flurry of Congress getting out of town and Christmas coming, not much media attention was paid to the Foreign Operations Appropriation bill. But the resolution of the matter has at least given President Bush one thing: a brilliantly clear choice.

He has the choice of perpetuating a lie or striking with the sword of truth.

First, the lie. The reason for the holdup on the Foreign Ops bill was debate over funding of the U N Population Fund, otherwise known as the UNFPA. The acronym doesn't match the name. Lots of perceptions don't match facts when the subject is the UN.

Whatever else it accomplishes, everyone can agree that the UNFPA probably deserves a lot of credit for shaping the subconsciousness of the civilized world in at least one way: When the words "UN" and "Population" are linked, an image of densely-packed scrawny dark-skinned bodies, pathetically holding out empty bowls, begging for food, comes to forefront of the public's subconscious mind.

Based upon that perception, the UNFPA routinely comes to Congress with its hand out for more money for the purpose of diminishing the number of dark-skinned bodies, and generally gets it.

George W. Bush has the chance to re-write the script.

First problem: the mental image is a lie. When it comes to dense population, those dark-skinned images are misleading: the Netherlands and Belgium are far more densely populated than India, for example. Odd, isn't it, how Democrats and liberals are willing to practice population control on dark-skinned people, at the same time calling Republicans and Christians racists?

Last November, the UNFPA published its annual report, the gist of which was: the climate is changing, the atmosphere is warming, the forest is disappearing, and the population is growing in the developing countries. Or, people are the problem.

To put the UNFPA report in context, it is worth knowing that two weeks earlier the UN marked World Food Day, and the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization did not even mention population as a problem in his assessment of the fight against hunger. Jacques Diouf noted, accurately, that the main obstacles to reducing hunger are lack of peace and political stability. Or, people with better ideas are the solution.

The Population Division of the UN's Department of Economic and Social Affairs recently published its own report, "Population, Environment and Development". This report noted that while the world population quadrupled from 1900 to 2000, real gross domestic product of the world increased 20 to 40 fold, which not only allowed the larger population to be sustained, but sustained at vastly higher standards of living.

So there's a whole nest of lies. The fact is: regardless of their skin color, the number of people just isn't the problem. But any person who has been in any school since the first Earth Day in 1970 has been taught, ad infinitum, that it is. It is time for this lie to be put to rest.

The UNFPA does more than just put out reports, of course. On October 19, 2001, when thousands of Afghan refugees crossed the Pakistan border, UNFPA grantee IPPF was there to meet them, with "emergency reproductive health aid for families in camps on the borders". It was setting up "family health clinics" too. Translation: abortions available on site. On its website, the IPPF stated that a key part of its work was going to be to train adolescent females as counselors in "health, hygiene, and sexual and reproductive health issues."

For the sake of the Muslim Afghani women who have already suffered enough, and who cherish both virginity and fertility, one can hope that the "family health clinics" on those borders are not going to be like the UNFPA's similar clinics in China.

And here is the biggest, and most vicious, lie.

Repeatedly the UNFPA has declared that it, like the government of the People's Republic of China, believes "that their program is a totally voluntary program."

Last Fall, however, the Population Research Institute, a human rights group, sent a team into Sihui in Guangdong Province, where UNFPA runs the "family planning and reproductive health" services. After four days of interviewing family planning workers and more than two dozen victims or witnesses, PRI ended up with over four hours of recorded testimonies.

What they found is the truth that everyone has known all along: Family planning is not voluntary in Sihui. Coercive methods include such tactics as birth permits, mandatory sterilization, mandatory IUDs, crippling fines and imprisonment for non-compliance, destruction of homes and property for non-compliance, forced abortion and forced sterilization.

These things are indefensible. They were indefensible when the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal ruled them a crime against humanity, and they are indefensible today. The UNFPA knows they are indefensible.

So the UNFPA denies the charges. For the sake of window-dressing, it arranges a busload tour of Sihui by a busload of Chinese Population Control officials, spends less than an hour talking to "clients" (as if any intimidated countrywoman is going to speak the truth in front of 35 officials), and finds that "no one knew of any abuses."

Meanwhile, UNFPA's agents contacted PRI to demand the names and addresses of those who testified to the contrary on PRI's audio and videotape. Perhaps the Chinese Family Planning officials wanted to send them New Year's greetings.

And Democrats in Congress authorized $34 million for the UNFPA. But the Republicans managed to slip in a provision which gives President Bush his brilliantly clear choice.

As the law ended up, the President is not required to give any money to the UNFPA, even though he may give up to $34 million. Before he gives a dime, he is required to certify that the UN agency is not implicated in implementing Communist China's one-child policy or involved in its own coercion.

George W. Bush is a man of conscience. He will not certify to what is not true. He will not spend American dollars for indefensible crimes against humanity. And so he must refuse money for the UNFPA.

Connie Marshner is Director of the Free Congress Foundation's Center for Governance.

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