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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 28, 1997


Today I am pleased to sign into law H.J. Res. 36, which approves a Presidential finding related to international population programs. Approval of this joint resolution permits the release on March 1 of funds previously appropriated for international population assistance programs administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In making these funds available without further delay we are assuring that these programs will continue to serve the many millions of women and men whose health and well-being -- and ability to plan their own futures -- depend on family planning services supported by USAID. Moreover, we are underscoring the indisputable fact that family planning reduces abortion -- as best evidenced by significant declines in abortion rates as family planning services are becoming available in Russia and Central and Eastern Europe.

The passage of this joint resolution at the opening of the 105th Congress is particularly gratifying as it signifies what we can accomplish by working together -- Democrats and Republicans. By agreeing to secure the timely release of these funds, we are assuring that the United States will continue to lead the world in providing voluntary family planning assistance. More importantly, we are helping the women of the world to prevent millions of unintended pregnancies, permit the healthy spacing of births, prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, reduce recourse to abortion, and avert deaths from childbirth that often leave infants and their siblings motherless.

It is clear to me -- and I am delighted that a strong bipartisan group of legislators in the House and Senate has joined in affirming the view -- that family planning is a key element of our comprehensive strategy to improve women's health and station in life, and to increase child survival rates. By their votes, Members of Congress have shown their concern for the well-being of the poorest families around the globe.



February 28, 1997.

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