Kemp-Kasten Amendment

The Kemp-Kasten Amendment was enacted for the first time in 1985 as part of a United States appropriations law. The provision prohibits foreign aid to any organization that the administration determines is involved in coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization. Using a broad interpretation of the amendment, the Bush administration determined that the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) presence in China could be construed as involvement in China’s coercive policies. As a result, the United States withheld funding for UNFPA under President Bush from 2002 to 2008. President Obama directed U.S. Congress to restore its funding in 2009.

In October 2008, the Bush administration took its interpretation a step further by applying Kemp-Kasten to Marie Stopes International (MSI), a UK-based organization that provides family planning services globally, because the organization works with UNFPA in China. MSI does not receive U.S. funding. Because of the Kemp-Kasten determination on MSI, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) issued a directive to African governments prohibiting the distribution of U.S.-donated contraceptives to the organization. The United States government has not provided evidence that either UNFPA or MSI are in fact violating U.S. law by supporting coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.

Since the U.S. has agreed to the principles and Programme of Action of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), it has already made the commitment to the right of individuals to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence, and therefore, the Kemp-Kasten Amendment is not necessary to ensure that U.S. funding does not support coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.