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U.S. stingy on funding for women's health
The toll in women's lives

By Elizabeth Schulte | July 9, 2004 | Page 2

MORE THAN 1 million women have died around the world in the last decade because wealthy nations didn't keep their promises. Ten years ago, at the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, the U.S. and the world's other developed nations claimed that they would provide $30 billion to promote sexual and reproductive health.

But, according to an analysis by the U.S.-based group Population Action International, these countries paid out just $10 billion for international family planning efforts. Non-governmental organizations that have come together in a campaign called "Countdown 2015" say the missing $20 billion could have prevented 268 million unwanted pregnancies, 113 million induced abortions, 7.2 million infant deaths and 733,000 pregnancy-related deaths.

International advocacy groups are petitioning their governments to make good on their promises. The Bush administration bears extra responsibility for this health care catastrophe.

Within his first week of taking office, Bush passed a law that bans funding to any agency that provides abortions--or even talks about abortion counseling. This meant that critical money for HIV and AIDS prevention was suspended if an agency provided abortion counseling.

Out of the Cairo conference, the U.S. government committed to spending $12.3 billion for sexual and reproductive health aid. But according to the study of its budget between 1996-2001, the U.S. spent only $4.1 billion.

So far, the price tag for the U.S. war on Iraq is more than $126 billion. So when it comes to oil and empire, money is no object. When it comes to poor women's lives, the U.S. is the stingiest country in the world.

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