October 6, 2008
On Thursday, the US State Department and the Agency for International Development (USAID) announced they recently took action against one of the world's largest family planning organizations. USAID said it determined the UK-based Marie Stopes International charity supports Chinese family planning programs that include coerced abortion and sterilization. Citing that, the agencies told six African governments that US-donated contraceptives can no longer be distributed by MSI.
The countries notified were Ghana, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
"Given these circumstances, USAID made the policy decision to inform governments in these countries that it does not want USAID-funded commodities to be provided to [MSI]," the State Department said.
Under US law, the government must withhold assistance to groups involved in family planning abroad that includes abortion or coerced sterilization. The Reagan-era Kemp-Kasten law has been enforced only by Republican administrations. Since 2002, the Bush administration has refused to release $34 million to the UN Population Fund, alleging its programs in China violate US policy. UNPF denies the charge.
MSI complained the recent move is "purely political" and "dangerous," possibly leading to more abortions, maternal deaths, and other health problems for women and girls.
"Only the Bush administration could find logic in the idea that they can somehow reduce abortions and promote choice for women in China by causing more abortion and gutting choice for women in Africa," said MSI.
"Any assertion that the USAID decision will likely increase abortions and maternal deaths is false," the State Department and development agency said. "USAID is working with governments in the affected countries to ensure that our commodities reach the women and men who need them."