Voluntarism and Informed Choice

Speeches Shim

Overview

USAID is committed to helping countries meet the family planning and reproductive health needs of their people. Voluntarism and informed choice are guiding principles of our program. Under these principles, clients are offered, either directly or through referral, a broad range of methods and services.

For USAID programs, the principles of voluntarism and informed choice are articulated in legislative requirements, Agency policy, and program guidance.

USAID Policy Paper on Population Assistance

Authorized in 1982, the paper addresses USAID’s policy for population and family planning programming.

The Tiahrt Amendment

In October 1998, Congress enacted an amendment initiated by Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS), reaffirming and further elaborating standards for voluntary family planning service delivery projects to protect family planning "acceptors," that is, the individual clients receiving services.

Summary of Tiahrt Requirements for Voluntary Family Planning Projects

  1. Service providers or referral agents shall not implement or be subject to numerical targets or quotas of total number of births, number of family planning acceptors, or acceptors of a particular family planning method. Quantitative estimates or indicators used for budgeting or planning purposes are permissible.
  2. No incentives, bribes, gratuities, or financial reward for family planning program personnel for achieving targets or quotas, or for individuals in exchange for becoming a family planning acceptor.
  3. No denial of rights or benefits such as food or medical care to individuals who decide not to use family planning services.
  4. Clients must be provided comprehensible information on benefits and risks of the family planning method chosen.
  5. Experimental methods must be provided only within the context of a scientific study, and participants must be advised of all potential risks and benefits.

Within 60 days after the USAID Administrator determines that a single violation of requirements (1), (2), (3), or (5) has occurred, or, in the case of (4), a pattern or practice of violations has occurred, the Administrator must submit a report to Congress describing the violation and corrective actions taken to address it.

Legislation and Guidance

The first document below contains the full text of the Tiahrt Amendment. The following documents are important sources of guidance for project implementers.

The DeConcini Amendment

Funds shall be available only to voluntary family planning projects which offer, either directly or through referral to, or information about access to, a broad range of family planning methods and services.

The Livingston Amendment

In awarding grants for natural family planning, no applicant shall be discriminated against because of such applicant’s religious or conscientious commitment to offer only natural family planning. All such applicants must comply with the requirements of the DeConcini Amendment.

Policy Determination 3 (PD-3)

USAID has provided key policy guidance on voluntary sterilization in the Annex of the Agency's 1982 Policy Paper on Population Assistance; the guidelines are commonly referred to as Policy Determination 3.

PD-3 contains specific guidance that should be considered carefully when implementing programs with voluntary sterilization components.

The Kemp-Kasten Amendment

No foreign assistance funds can be made available to any organization or program which, as determined by the President of the United States, supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.

Last updated: January 28, 2022

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