The purpose of this Population Research Institute (PRI) report is to respond to the assumptions and conclusions contained in President Clinton's Finding of January 31, 1997, entitled "The Impact of Delaying USAID Population Funding from March to July 1997: Justification for a Presidential Determination on Section 518A(a) of the FY97 Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs Appropriations Act," hereafter referred to as the Finding.
The Population Research Institute has five primary objections to the conclusions reached in the President's Finding, as follows;
The basis for these objections are documented herein.
The President's Finding states that "Increases in unintended pregnancies and abortions would be inevitable ... The consequences would be increased unintended pregnancies, more abortions, higher numbers of maternal and infant deaths, and, of course, more births" (pages 1 and 3). It also states as fact that "... most of all, the health and well-being of women, men and children who are beneficiaries of U.S. assistance would be severely threatened" (page 1).
These conclusions appear to be drawn from the January 1997 Rockefeller Foundation report entitled High Stakes: The United States, Global Population and Our Common Future.
High Stakes alleges that: The cuts in population assistance have had devastating and immediate effects. A group of five leading U.S. research organizations (The Alan Guttmacher Institute, The Futures Group, Population Action International and Population Reference Bureau, in consultation with The Population Council) has estimated the effects. In just one year:
High Stakes merely repeats the figures first published in an Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) Memorandum of March 6, 1996, entitled "Estimate of Number of Additional Abortions, Maternal Deaths and Infant Deaths Resulting from a 35% Cut in USAID Funding for Family Planning for All Countries Excluding China."
To begin with, the amount of money being contested in March 1996 was $190 million, and the amount of money currently at stake is $123 million ) about one-third less. Yet the Rockefeller Foundation merely repeats the numbers found in the AGI memorandum.
This reveals an extremely important failing of the President's Finding, because it is based on the Rockefeller Foundation and Population Council reports: No new research has been performed to buttress its conclusions. In other words, the Finding simply regurgitates the previous figures without regard for changing conditions or the facts.
On March 18, 1996, the Population Research Institute published an analysis of the AGI memorandum. The PRI report found that the AGI memorandum was fatally flawed in its assumptions and calculations, thereby rendering its conclusions meaningless. For example, the AGI completely disregarded the effects of the more than 400,000 contraceptive failures that would occur among users if the 35% funding cut were restored, and it grossly overestimated both maternal and infant mortality rates in developing countries. These and other basic errors had a cumulative effect that led AGI to overestimate by 81% the total number of unwanted pregnancies that would occur as a result of a 35% cut in USAID population programs. This, in turn, led AGI to overestimate by 121% the numbers of maternal deaths and infant deaths that would allegedly occur due to the March 1996 funding cuts.
More importantly, the PRI report showed that a reallocation of the contested $190 million to prenatal and infant care in the poorest nations would save the lives of 94,671 women and children, or 30,483 more than would be saved if the money were given to USAID for population control programs.
The PRI report concluded that if the contested $190 million were disbursed for population purposes, instead of being used for prenatal and infant care, more than 30,000 women and children would die as a result. Because the impacts of reallocation are directly proportional to the amount of money reallocated, if the contested $123 million were disbursed for population purposes, instead of being used for prenatal and infant care, about 20,000 women and children would die as a result.
Even more lives would be saved if this funding were redirected into other bona fide health care programs such as providing vitamin supplements or vaccinations to poor children around the world. UNICEF estimates that 2.1 million children each are dying from vaccine-preventable diseases, and that Vitamen A supplements could avert an estimated 1-2 millions deaths each year.
The March 18, 1996 Population Institute Review response to the Alan Guttmacher Institute report is available from the Population Research Institute upon request.
It is often said that "economic development is the best contraceptive." This means that, when modern equipment and basic health care are available to rural people, they don't have to have many children in order to work the fields, to insure that some children survive, or to take care of them when they are old and infirm. Additionally, as a nation develops, young people tend to marry later and have their first child later as well.
Construction of basic infrastructure in developing countries would not only bring the population growth rate down, it would improve the quality of life of the people dramatically.
The total present worth of USAID population control expenditures since 1964 has been $10,679,523,000 in current (February 1997) dollars.(1) If this money had been reallocated towards infrastructure construction in developing countries, it would have at least:
It is too late now, of course, to "take back" the more than ten billion dollars that have been squandered on population control and reallocate it to authentic economic development. However, it is not too late to reallocate this year's USAID funding to purposes that will strengthen entire nations, instead of merely turning big poor families into small poor families.
Pages 11 through 14 of the President's Finding lists fifteen specific countries that would allegedly suffer detrimental effects caused by cuts in the USAID population program.
The introductory paragraph on page 11 claims that "all of the countries listed below are experiencing rapid population growth, with annual rates of growth exceeding 2 percent. The exceptions are Turkey, where the annual growth rate is 1.6 percent, and Russia and the Ukraine, which both have low fertility but extremely high abortion rates."
To begin with, the President's finding uses population growth rates that are more than a decade old, and therefore greatly overestimate the actual current rates. It claims that twelve of the fifteen countries listed have annual population growth rates exceeding 2.0 percent; in reality, only six of them do.(2)
More specifically and to the point, every one of the countries listed in the President's Finding have been harmed by United States population control efforts, as described below. If the US government is truly concerned about the health of women and infants, it should conduct an independent review of USAID population control programs in recipient countries using bona fide health care professionals who have no relationship with, or interest in, the continuation of such programs. Such a review would, we believe, reach the conclusion that USAID population control programs should be terminated and the funds redirected to maternal and infant child care and authentic economic development.
It would be impossible to list all of the incidents of the extraordinary damage inflicted upon the people and cultures of developing countries by US-funded population programs. We have selected four of the countries listed in the President's Finding which exemplify certain negative consequences of such programs. Similar ill effects could be adduced for virtually all the developing nations which have been targeted for population control.