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February 26, 1988

The central theme of The Times editorial "Challenge to a Reckless Policy" (Feb. 5) is right on the mark: The Reagan Administration's international population policy is regressive and nonsensical, possibly even unconstitutional, on the abortion issue.

But the editorial writer seems to have cribbed from a press release the U.S. Agency for International Development has been peddling for months to come up with that tomfoolery about the Administration's "strong support to foreign aid for population activities." It just isn't so and it never was.

First of all, very shortly after this "strongly supportive" Administration settled into Washington, it attempted to eliminate all U.S. international population spending. Since then, Congress has voted for amounts larger than those proposed by the Administration in fully half of the overseas population assistance budget requests during the past eight years.

Secondly, U.S. overseas population aid peaked at $288.1 million in 1985, not at $234.6 million in 1987 as reported in the editorial. The 1987 figure amounted to a whopping $53.5 million slash in U.S. overseas population assistance only two years after the actual peak had been reached. That small matter was omitted from the AID press handout, possibly because it indicated something less than the Reagan Administration's "strong support" for population assistance to poor countries.



The Population Institute

Washington, D.C.

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