Demonstrating, once again, his contempt for the needs of poor women and families around the world, President Bush is calling on Congress to slash funding for overseas family planning programs by $134 million (or 29 percent) from the current level of $461 million.
Sadly, U.S. contributions to international family planning programs have been woefully inadequate over the past decade. Indeed, today, our nation is contributing significantly less than it did 14 years ago. The need, though, is increasing. As you may know, there are 6.7 billion people in the world today. By 2050, that number is projected to range from below 8 billion - if we act now to make family planning and contraceptives available to the hundreds of millions of women who lack access to them - to nearly 12 billion.
With this growing population comes a growing demand for family planning services. In fact, there are some 200 million women in the developing world who would like to delay or prevent pregnancy but lack access to safe, effective contraceptives, and the demand for contraceptives is projected to increase by 40 percent over the next 15 years.
Family planning benefits everyone, and few investments can promise so high a return. It improves the health of women and children, economic and social conditions of communities and countries, and the environment.
In addition, the president today requested that Congress increase funding for discredited and dangerous abstinence-only programs targeted at young Americans. These programs have been found to be ineffective at reducing adolescent sexual activity and preventing teen pregnancy. Numerous evaluations have also found that federally funded abstinence-only programs are riddled with misinformation.
The president's proposal is the first step in a long budget process on Capitol Hill, and you can help ensure that these draconian cuts are rejected, and that Congress works to increase the funding for these programs. Please be on the lookout in the coming days for ways you can help.