- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 29, 2002

Some House members are stepping up efforts to persuade the White House to withhold federal money from the United Nations Population Fund, which they say has supported forced abortions and other coercive practices by the Chinese government.
"By operating in China, spending money there, and defending the Chinese population control system, the UNFPA clearly supports a program of coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization," states a letter that a bipartisan group of House members plan to send to the president later this week.
President Bush is considering withholding the $34 million Congress appropriated to the UNFPA as part of the foreign operations spending bill.
Republican Reps. Christopher H. Smith of New Jersey, Mike Pence of Indiana and Joseph R. Pitts of Pennsylvania are asking fellow House members to join them in sending to the White House the letter urging the president to withhold the funds. As of yesterday afternoon, six Republicans and three Democrats Reps. Ronnie Shows of Mississippi, Marion Berry of Arkansas and David D. Phelps of Illinois have agreed to join them, said a spokesman for Mr. Smith.
House GOP leaders are drafting a similar letter to send to the White House, a Republican aide said.
China's population policy seeks to limit couples to one child, and critics say this rule is often enforced through intimidation, coerced abortions, forced sterilizations and the jailing of violators.
At a press conference last week, Chinese immigrant Ma Dongfang said that after she became pregnant with her second child in 1991, the Chinese government forced her to have an abortion, then implanted a contraceptive device in her body without her knowledge or permission, causing her severe health problems.
"There are a million stories like mine in China, and a million women who wish to escape the one-child policy," she said.
Mr. Smith said the UNFPA has acted as an "enabler" of the Chinese government by denying that such abuses take place and defending China to critics.
Sterling Scruggs, spokesman for the UNFPA, said the UNFPA does not support the one-child policy or coersion or force of any kind, and is working hard to move the Chinese government to a policy that promotes various voluntary methods of birth control. He said progress has been made in recent years and force and coercion do not take place in the 32 counties in China where the UNFPA has been working since 1998.
"We're not saying that it doesn't happen, but if we found out it was true in the areas we work in, we would cease operation," Mr. Scruggs said.
Last fall, the Population Research Institute (PRI) conducted an investigation in Sihui, one of the counties in China where the UNFPA operates.
Investigators said victims and witnesses told them family planning in Sihui is not voluntary and includes forced abortion, forced sterilization, age requirements for pregnancy, mandatory use of birth-control devices, fines and imprisonment for breaking these laws and sometimes destruction of homes or property.
"The abuses we documented during this investigation are recent, ongoing, rampant and unrelenting," PRI investigator Josephine Guy told the House International Relations Committee in October. "And they exist in a county where [the UNFPA] claims that women are free to determine the timing and spacing of pregnancy."
UNFPA sent its own team to investigate Sihui soon after the PRI report, and Mr. Scruggs said it "could not substantiate" PRI's claims.
Steven Mosher, president of PRI, said the UNFPA team was accompanied by Chinese government officials for most of its visit, and locals were likely afraid of speaking the truth in front of them.
"There are real abuses in these counties, and for the UNFPA to say they are not going on is just covering it up; it's not working to correct them," Mr. Mosher said.
Mr. Scruggs said UNFPA has never supported abortion services of any kind.
Since 1985, the foreign operations bill has included language prohibiting funds for any organization that "supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization."
President Reagan denied federal funds for UNFPA based on that prohibition, as did Mr. Bush's father. UNFPA funding was reinstated under President Clinton.

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