VIDEO: Wicker Amendment Fails: US Funding for UNFPA Will be Restored

Last night sane heads prevailed and the Senate voted to defeat the Wicker Amendment to the omnibus bill that could once again have been used to limit US funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).  The vote was 55 to 39 against the amendment.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) lead the effort to defeat the Wicker amendment.

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont defends the work of the UNFPA in a speech against the Wicker amendment on Thursday.

The Omnibus bill includes $50 million for UNFPA, an organization that seeks to improve access to basic family planning services, including contraception to help women avoid unintended pregnancy, and essential maternal health, pre- and post-natal care, and emergency obstetric care aimed at reducing maternal and infant mortality.  Deaths due to complications of pregnancy and unsafe abortion remain leading killers of women in many countries of the world.  UNFPA is an essential partner in efforts to reduce the high rates of death among women and the toll such deaths take on families and communities.

US funding for UNFPA had become a political football during the Bush Administration, and was held up by baseless charges that the organization contributed to abuses under China’s one-child family policy.  No credible evidence has ever been found to prove this charge.  To the contrary, a Bush-appointed State Department team stated:

"We find no evidence that UNFPA has knowingly supported
or participated in the management of a program of coercive abortion or
involuntary sterilization in the PRC.

The same team recommended that funds be restored
to UNFPA.  But ideological and political decisions once again
prevailed, and the US continued to refuse to make a contribution to
UNFPA throughout the last Administration, despite the findings of its own team.

As we wrote earlier this
, the HR 1105 contained langauge intending to restore funding to
UNFPA. To immunize UNFPA against future political attacks such as occured under Bush, the Omnibus would provide funding for
UNFPA for specific activities, including:

  • providing and distributing equipment, medicine, and supplies,
    including safe delivery kits and hygiene kits to ensure safe
    childbirth and emergency obstetric care;
  • making available supplies of contraceptives for the
    prevention of unintended pregnancies and the spread of sexually
    transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS;
  • reestablishing maternal health services in areas where
    medical infrastructure and such services have been destroyed or limited
    by natural disasters, armed conflict, or other factors; and
  • promoting access to basic services, including clean
    water, sanitation facilities, food, and health care, for poor women and


The bill notes clearly that none of these activities could be used to fund programs in China.

UNFPA does not fund, provide or support abortion services anywhere.

For these and other reasons, Senator Leahy argued that the Wicker amendment was unnecessary because the law already prohibits funding of programs that engage in coercive abortion (which UNFPA does not), stating:

"Why we would want to prohibit funds to save the lives of women who could otherwise die or be debilitated the rest of their lives I cannot understand.  There are none of us here who would hesistate for a moment to provide funds to help a woman in our family who might be in this condition but this amendment does just that."

Thankfully, leaders like Senator Leahy are still willing to stand up for evidence, for women’s rights, and for the restoration of sane and commonsense approaches to promoting women’s health.  The difference now is that he and others have sufficient votes to prevail.



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  • invalid-0

    Senator Leahy is a great American hero. He is speaking truth to liars like Wicker (whose name has only one letter different from “wicked”) and other misogynists who are threatened by the empowerment of women not just in their right to terminate pregnancy, but to PREVENT pregnancy, to be healthy, to marry whom they want, to not be mutilated, etc.

  • gogbama

    in their right to terminate pregnancy, but to PREVENT pregnancy, to be healthy, to marry whom they want, to not be mutilated

    It completely agree with opinion.
    The woman is obliged to give birth, it is a prerogative given by the Lord the god and murder of the child in a womb can be reflected in destiny of not most developed mother very essentially.

    The British legislation

    At us in London think even of entering the criminal liability for pregnancy interruption…

  • progo35

    UNFPA supports China’s forced abortion, one child policy. Sound like something that pro choicers should support? I think not, if CHOICE is your mission, rather than increasing abortions in any way possible. If the bill really clearly says that NO money can be sent to China, AT ALL, EVER, than I guess it’s all right, but I have a lot of ire for the group in general. 
    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • therealistmom

    Or just argue? The whole "UNFPA supports forced abortion/ one child policy" has been debunked on this very site about a hundred different times. It is a falsehood spread by those who want to keep contraceptive and womens’ health issues out of poor countries.

     This is just one of many articles on the site regarding the falsehoods spread about UNFPA:

  • progo35

    I read it, I just don’t believe everything I read on this site, anymore than I would believe everything I read on a pro life site.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • mellankelly1

    So, do you mean to say that you actually believe that the UN supports forcing women to terminate their pregnancies? What is your supporting documentation?

  • therealistmom

    But honestly Progo has been putting that to the test. I’m really getting the impression that if something doesn’t fit her worldview or assumptions it is automatically false in her world. There’s a big difference in being skeptical of information on potentially biased sites and simply dismissing those things that don’t fit in with your assumptions. Just like the idea that because women signed away their parental rights that their babies couldn’t POSSIBLY be stolen (ie coerced) from them particularly during the baby-snatching era.

  • progo35

    I didn’t dismiss it, I clearly said that as long as none of the money is going to china, than I guess it’s okay. Coercion is wrong, but that does not equal “stolen,” which engenders images of children being kidnapped out of their homes, etc.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich