Central Family Planning


International aid bureaucrats have a longstanding interest in population control, arguing that one more mouth to feed exacerbates, or even causes, the underdevelopment they are supposed to combat. In 1998, to curb any excess zeal in the pursuit of fewer babies, Congress passed an amendment prohibiting the U.S. from funding any population-control program abroad that wasn't completely voluntary or that used targets and quotas for sterilization or contraceptive use.

Now Population Research International, a group opposed to coercive population-control measures, is calling for a congressional investigation into the contraceptive practices of Peru's Ministry of Health, which received $36 million last year from the U.S. Agency for International Development. PRI has collected testimony from Peruvians claiming that doctors have sterilized women during Cesarean sections without prior approval, that clinic workers are being rewarded with new clothes for meeting family-planning quotas, and that women are being given contraceptive drugs such as Depo-Prevera without informed consent.

These practices, says PRI president Steven Mosher, violate the congressional amendment. Mosher thinks Congress should toughen the amendment's enforcement provisions as well: Right now, if USAID violates the law, it's required merely to promise to mend its ways.