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They did it again!
------------------
 
State Department Withdraws Funding For Marie Stopes International Al-
leging Group Supports Forced Abortion In China
 
The State Department has announced that it is discontinuing funding 
for an HIV/AIDS program for African and Asian refugees because of 
concerns that one of the seven groups that runs the program supports 
forced abortions and involuntary sterilization in China, the New York 
Times reports. Although State Department officials said they have no 
evidence that Marie Stopes International, which provides family plan-
ning counseling and abortion services, is involved in forced abor-
tions and sterilizations, they expressed concern that the group works 
as a partner in China with the United Nations Population Fund 
(Swarns, New York Times, 8/27). 
 
The Bush administration in July 2002 decided to permanently withhold 
UNFPA funding -- withdrawing $34 million in financing for that year -
- stating that the organization "tacitly perpetuates a 'one-child' 
policy in China that has led to abortions and sterilizations against 
women's will." A State Department fact-finding team in May 2002 is-
sued a report in which they stated that there was no evidence that 
UNFPA funds were being used for coercive practices in China. However, 
the administration rejected the report's findings, stating that China 
"coerces women to have abortions by charging them a prohibitive 'so-
cial compensation fee' for having children without permission" (Kai-
ser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 7/17). State Department offi-
cials said that MSI's work with the UNFPA and Chinese officials "is 
what touched off the similar concerns," according to the Times. An 
unnamed State Department official said that although the group's pro-
gram in China aims to reduce the number of abortions there, "the fact 
that they're tied in with the government management program is what 
triggered the concern. This wasn't an ideological decision; it was a 
legal decision."
 
AIDS Program
 
The State Department official said that the HIV/AIDS program, which 
is run by a consortium of seven groups known as the Reproductive 
Health for Refugees Consortium -- which includes MSI, the Interna-
tional Rescue Committee, CARE, the American Refugee Committee, the 
Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children, John Snow Interna-
tional and Columbia University's Department of Population and Family 
Health -- does "good work" and is "very useful." The program provides 
AIDS counseling and supports health care services for thousands of 
individuals in several countries, including Angola, Congo, Rwanda and 
Eritrea. Following the withdrawal of the group's funding, the State 
Department gave the program $1 million to pay for its first year and 
said that it would continue to fund the six other groups involved in 
the project if they agreed to end their partnership with MSI, the 
Times reports. The consortium refused the State Department offer, 
saying that they would not end ties with the group over "baseless al-
legations." A State Department official said, "We were disappointed 
that for reasons of solidarity with Marie Stopes that they should re-
fuse our money. We had hoped they would show more humanitarian 
statesmanship than that." The State Department decision has "raised a 
furor" among AIDS and refugee groups, who say that they are concerned 
that the State Department is "bowing to pressure from antiabortion 
factions" within the Bush administration and "allowing politics to 
interfere" with important AIDS programs, according to the Times. The 
State Department has denied the allegations, according to the Times 
(New York Times, 8/27).  

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