The Agency for International Development has killed funds for a major independent family planning publication, primarily because of two articles AID decided were promoting abortion and not just describing its use.
Jeannie I. Rosoff, president of the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that publishes the magazine International Family Planning Perspectives, called the fund cutoff part of "a campaign of censorship" designed to "attack us as an institution and intimidate the top leadership."
She denied that the articles in question violated Reagan administration policies against advocating abortion and noted that AID had previously reviewed and passed both pieces.
The quarterly publication is unique in reaching 30,000 top U.S. and international population control experts with reports on current research, presentations, meetings and field projects worldwide, she said.
Richard R. Miller, chairman of AID's publication review board, said the board killed the institute's $364,000 funding request at a Dec. 8 meeting because "there are 27 other publications printed with AID funds directed at a similar or the same audience."
But a transcript shows that debate at the gathering focused heavily on the abortion question, and Miller's internal memo notifying his superiors of the decision devotes a page to the abortion issue and one paragraph to the duplication of effort.
Under AID guidelines issued last September, its publications cannot include "information, education, lobbying, or training on communication programs that seek to promote abortion as a method of family planning."
But the guidelines allow AID "to gather descriptive epidemiological data to assess the incidence, extent or adverse consequences of abortion."
At issue are a June, 1982, IFPP article on a report from the Centers for Disease Control on maternal deaths in Bangladesh, and a September article noting that abortion is a widely used contraceptive practice in Tunisia.
"The problem is that . . . we find mentions like a series of laws were promulgated to promote the full equality of women, encourage small family size . . . . In addition, abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy was made legal in 1973," Miller told the board meeting about the Tunisia article.
"My point isn't that it's not true; my point is whether or not the federal government wants to pay to have that information disseminated. . . . "
The Bangladesh article, he said later in the meeting, "says such things as the authors believe that 84 percent of the abortion-related deaths could be prevented if all abortions were to be performed by physicians using medically approved procedures."
AID Administrator Peter C. McPherson, Miller said, decided "early on in his administration here not to be party to the dissemination of this kind of information."
The Guttmacher Institute appealed the fund cut through Nyle Brady, the senior assistant administrator of AID's Bureau of Science and Technology.
Miller said he had tentatively rejected the appeal, but that the verdict had been held up for 10 days while AID's Office of Population completes a draft of its new overall communications policy.
Although that seemed to leave the door open for fund reinstatement, institute policy officer Peter Wilson called it the latest in a series of delays and "a stringing out rather than a gleam of hope."