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The Republican (US), September 14, 2007

EDITORIAL: U.N. Population Fund lesson in life for Bush

In the time it will take you to read this sentence, a woman in a poor country in a distant corner of the world will die of complications from childbirth or pregnancy.

She might live in the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, a country in Southeast Asia where few women receive family planning services or prenatal care.

This tiny impoverished nation contributed $500 last year to the United Nations Population Fund, an agency dedicated to expanding access to family planning and maternal health care around the world.

It is one of 180 countries around the world that contributes what they can afford to the agency.

The United States doesn't contribute any money to the fund. Last week, President Bush blocked $34 million that Congress had approved for the program on the grounds that the money will be used to support abortion services in other countries, including China. It's the sixth straight year that Bush has withheld money from the UNFPA, as it is known, even though the United States was instrumental in its formation four decades ago.

Not many people in the United States are familiar with the UNFPA and its work. Apparently, President Bush is not among them. The agency does not promote abortion. It gives women access to family planning services, giving them the education and resources they need to make informed decisions about their own reproductive health.

President Bush has threatened to veto any efforts by Congress to overturn the law that allows the president to remove taxpayer funding from any overseas family group that supports abortion counseling.

Congress should make him exercise that authority.

Bush has used veto power only twice, first to kill a bill to fund stem cell research and then to kill a bill calling for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. And now he is threatening to kill a bill that would contribute to the reproductive health and well-being of women across the world.

Opposed to women's health?

That would be some legacy.

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