ASHLAND, ORE. — At last count, the legislative hopper on Capitol Hill included nearly 30 proposals related to population. Several of these deal specifically with abortion in the United States. Two bills address international population. A measure written by Rep. Chester Atkins (D) of Massachusetts would allow population assistance funds to be given to international agencies and non-government organizations on the same basis as those funds now go to individual governments. In other words, the UN Population Fund, which operates in some 130 countries, could not be singled out for special restrictions.
The main international population proposal, the ``International Voluntary Family Planning Assistance Act,'' would increase US spending to $570 million for 1991-92. This is the sum the US would be spending under the ``Amersterdam Declaration'' agreed to two years ago. But it also is considerably more than the Bush administration wants to spend ($308 million) for fiscal year 1992.
The congressional proposal includes $65 million for the UN Population Fund, which had its US support cut off several years ago. Backers have guaranteed that none of the contribution to the UN fund will go to China's family-planning program, which allegedly includes coerced abortion and sterilization.
``Although it is hard to conceive of the danger, explosive population growth is a root cause of many of our most pressing problems, like global warming, human hunger, deforestation, and soil erosion, maternal and child mortality, and increased poverty in developing nations,'' says Rep. Peter Kostmayer (D) of Pennsylvania, the bill's author.
``Slowing population growth may not be a panacea for all world problems,'' says Rep. Constance Morella (R) of Maryland, co-author of the measure. ``But there can be no question that many of these problems are inexorably linked to rapid population growth.''