286. Editorial Note

In April 1967 the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations took a major step on population matters. The committee chair, J. William Fulbright, ranking minority member Bourke Hickenlooper, and 17 other Senators supported an amendment to the Foreign Aid Bill authorizing $50 million per year for 3 years “to provide assistance for voluntary family planning programs in friendly foreign countries and areas, on such terms and conditions as he (the President) shall determine, to foreign governments, United Nations specialized agencies, United States and foreign nonprofit organizations, universities, hospitals, accredited health institutions, and voluntary health or other qualified organization.” (AIDTO circular telegram 2417, April 12, 1967; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1967–69, SOC 13–3) As a State Department analysis prepared in mid-1968 noted, policy developments in population matters in the Executive Branch were “in part led” by developments in Congress. (AID circular cable PA 201, July 13, 1968; ibid.)

In mid-1968 the Senate Committee re-emphasized its concerns of the previous year, charging that State Department and AID officials had not given the population problem “the priority it deserves.” (Ibid.) The House Foreign Affairs Committee agreed and urged that family planning be a central element of AID activities: “In order to counteract any possible tendency … to continue business as usual and to regard family planning programs as a fringe operation, $50 million of economic assistance funds have been set aside to be used only for this purpose.” (Ibid.)

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The Department believed that the discussion surrounding the amendment of the Foreign Aid legislation, which ultimately passed as Title X, signaled six major elements of policy favored by leaders of both parties in Congress:

  • “1. The Congress is deeply concerned that present rates of population growth in many developing countries are seriously impeding efforts toward economic and social development and threaten serious food shortages in only a few years;
  • “2. The Congress wants the Executive Branch to move much more rapidly and effectively than it has in the past to provide assistance in this field to developing nations;
  • “3. The Congress is willing to provide greatly increased funds for this purpose and wants the funds used more liberally—even permitting grants to be made where loans are required for older programs;
  • “4. The Congress knows that the fundamental decisions for action can be made only by each developing nation itself and that the United States and other outside agencies can help only as we are wanted;
  • “5. The Congress would like to see U.S. program assistance conveyed as far as is reasonably practicable through United Nations and other multilateral channels and wants to see the widest practical involvement of private organizations;
  • “6. The Congress wants to be sure that U.S. aid goes only to programs where participation is voluntary and each individual is free to practice methods of family planning consistent with his or her beliefs.” (Ibid.)