WASHINGTON (EWTN News)—The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee has approved a bill that would prohibit taxpayer funding of the United Nations Population Fund, which has been widely criticized for its cooperation with China’s controversial one-child policy.

“I’m happy to announce today [Oct. 5] that we have taken an important step in protecting American taxpayers from funding controversial family-planning operations through the U.N.,” said Congresswoman Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., who introduced the bill. “If the Chinese wish to do such things, they should not expect funding from the United States taxpayer.”

The population fund, which is the United Nations’ main unit for global population issues, provides support for the Chinese one-child policy that relies upon forced abortions and sterilizations.

The proposed bill, H.R. 2059, was approved by a 23-17 vote.

The legislation was chosen as a priority through the House Republican YouCut program, which allows the general public to offer ideas and feedback on potential cost-cutting bills.

Congressman Chris Smith, R-N.J., co-chairman of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, was a co-sponsor of the bill.

“For over 30 years, the UNFPA has consistently heaped praise on China’s population-control program and repeatedly urged other countries to embrace similar policies,” said Smith.

“After all these years, it is amazing and disheartening to me that many policymakers, including and especially the Obama administration, remain indifferent or worse, supportive, of these massive crimes against women and children.”

Over the years, Smith has chaired 30 congressional human-rights hearings focused at least partially on China’s one-child policy.

At his most recent hearing, held on Sept. 22, Chinese women testified about their experiences of undergoing coerced abortions and sterilizations.

Taxpayer support for forced abortions has been an issue of congressional concern for decades.

Since the 1985 fiscal year, every U.S. foreign-aid appropriations bill has included a policy known as the Kemp-Kasten Amendment.

This amendment dictates that funds may not 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.”

The Reagan administration and both Bush administrations cited the Kemp-Kasten Amendment in their decision to withhold funding from the population fund during their presidencies.

In January 2009, President Barack Obama issued an executive order resuming funding to the population fund.

The proposed bill would discontinue such funding.

“U.S. taxpayers should not be forced to fund programs that violate provisions of the Kemp-Kasten Amendment,” said Ellmers.

She also noted that the bill would “save 400 million dollars in taxpayer dollars over 10 years.”

Ellmers urged her colleagues to pass the bill when it comes before the entire House of Representatives for a vote: “As we work to get our economy back on track, we must start by cutting wasteful spending and protecting lives from these intolerable practices.”