Americans favor aid for family planning in third world, poll finds

A majority of Americans favor financial assistance for family planning programs in rapidly growing nations, according to a new poll of 1,250 Americans. Sixty percent of adults polled by Louis Harris and Associates said the United States should fund foreign family planning programs, regardless of whether abortion is legal in those nations. But more than one-third, 34 percent, disagreed, according to the poll prepared for the Population Crisis Committee and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Providing money for family planning has been controversial in recent years, with the US Agency for International Development withdrawing support from countries where abortion is a part of the programs. The agency halted funding to the International Planned Parenthood Federation and the UN's Population Fund, saying the policies promoted coercive abortion.

The study concluded that Americans are aware that the world's population, which last year topped the 5 billion mark, is growing rapidly and that this poses many problems. About 91 percent of those polled said food shortages and famines will get worse if populations in poor countries continue to increase. Continued growth will lead to more illegal immigration to the US, 89 percent of the respondents said; 87 percent predicted that there will be more international crises and that more farm land will turn to desert. Eighty-nine percent said poor Latin American, African, and Asian nations should have strong birth-control programs. (The poll's margin of error is 3 percentage points.)

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