Badpuppy Gay Today

Monday, 25 August, 1997


Communication, Data Collection & Biomedical Research
The U.S. Population Assistance Program
Compiled By Badpuppy's GayToday


Tens of millions of couples use voluntary family planning services as a direct result of U.S. population assistance. Millions more have adopted family planning due to U.S. government support for a broad range of technical assistance, training, information, communication, policy, and research activities in developing countries. In the 28 largest recipient countries of U.S. funds, the average number of children per family has dropped from 6.1 in the 1960s to 4.2 today, a decline of nearly one-third. The U.S. government provides its population assistance through three channels: bilateral, nongovernmental, and multilateral. One-third to one-half of the funds are provided directly to the governments of about 40 developing countries for projects jointly managed by the field missions of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which administers the U.S. foreign aid program. The remainder of USAID funds support a wide range of population activities in over 100 countries implemented by private, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The U.S. has also been a major contributor to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the largest multilateral organization involved in population, since its founding in 1969.

Virtually every major innovation in the population and family planning field can be directly or indirectly linked to U.S. support. For example, the U.S. has pioneered a variety of successful approaches to extending family planning through the private sector. Modern technology has also been creatively applied to the population field in the areas of mass communication, demographic data collection and analysis, and biomedical research in the development of new contraceptives.

The dedicated staff of career experts on population and related areas within USAID is unique among donor agencies. In addition, a strong public-private partnership with U.S.-based NGOs has been key to the USAID's ability to provide high quality technical advice and support to governments and indigenous NGOs in developing countries. Compared to other donors, USAID's substantial in-country presence has also been an important strength of U.S. population and development assistance. The U.S. population assistance program was initiated in 1965. During the 1960s and 1970s, the U.S. population program enjoyed a significant level of bipartisan support under presidents of both political parties. A strong consensus existed that rapid population growth was one of the world's most serious problems, undermining the prospects for economic and social progress in developing countries and posing a long-term threat to U.S. national interests in the areas of trade, security, environment, and international migration. Domestic political considerations, however, led the Reagan and Bush Administrations to directly challenge this consensus.

In the 1980s, domestic political debates on abortion spilled over into international population assistance policy. The use of foreign aid funds for abortion or for coercive programs has been prohibited by law since the passage of the Helms amendment in 1973, and support for biomedical research on abortion was banned in 1981. But the Reagan Administration imposed additional policy restrictions on the program in 1984 with the announcement of the so-called Mexico City Policy, which denied U.S. assistance to a foreign NGO if it had any involvement in abortion, even if paid for with non-U.S. funds. In addition, the Reagan and Bush Administrations withheld the U.S. contribution to UNFPA between 1986 and 1992 because of its projects in China.

In 1993, the Mexico City Policy was overturned by a newly inaugurated President Clinton. The U.S. contribution to UNFPA was restored after existing law was reinterpreted by the Clinton Administration and after Congress approved safeguards disassociating the U.S. from any coercive practices and ensuring that no U.S. funds would by used by UNFPA in China. During the 104th Congress, anti-choice opponents of family planning have sought repeatedly to reimpose the Mexico City Policy and to cut off U.S. funding of UNFPA.

Congress first appropriated funds for population assistance in 1965. Funding rose fairly steadily to a peak of nearly $600 million in 1995 before suffering a drastic 35 percent funding reduction in 1996. But even before this congressionally-imposed funding cut, the effects of inflation and increases in the number of women of reproductive age have meant that the growth in U.S. funding for family planning and other reproductive health programs has failed to keep pace with the demand for high quality services around the world.


Population Action International provides GayToday with updates about the effects of technology and politics on today's alarming ongoing worldwide rise in population. Population Action International (PAI) is a private, nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC. Established in 1965, it receives no government funds.

PAI seeks to increase political and financial support for effective population policies and programs grounded in individual rights. PAI advocates the expansion of voluntary family planning and related health services, and of educational and economic opportunities for girls and women.

You are welcome to visit PAI's web site: You may order one free copy of "Why Population Matters."

PAI can be contacted for further information:
Population Action International, 1120 19th Street, N.W., Suite 550, Washington, D.C 20036.


1998 BEI; All Rights Reserved.
For reprint permission e-mail