United States cuts funding to UN family planning body

The administration of US President Donald Trump on Monday said it was cutting off US funding to the United Nations agency for reproductive health, accusing the agency of supporting population control programs in China that include coercive abortion.

A report by the Associated Press states that as a result of the end of U.S. funding of UNFPA, $32.5 million will shift to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which has the goal of reducing maternal deaths and practices such as genital mutilation.

But despite the good UNFPA may do for millions of women, families and children across the globe, Trump and his cohorts just can't get past the fund's pesky stance on abortion.

"Although less visible, the UNFPA also supports governments to carry out their national population and housing census, a critical tool in informing policymakers where to invest in schools, health services, roads and other infrastructure which makes a key difference in citizens" daily wellbeing'. "How is that helping anyone?" said Brian Dixon, a spokesperson for the Population Connection Action Fund.

"China has every reason to feel proud of and pleased with its remarkable achievements made in its family planning policy and control of its population growth over the past 10 years", UNFPA executive director Nafis Sadik of Pakistan told the Xinhua news agency in April 1991.

Women's health, human rights and United Nations observer organizations quickly denounced the decision.

In January, the Trump administration announced a return to the "Mexico City policy" of not funding worldwide aid programs that encourage women to get abortions.

The State Department said the United States would withdraw funding because UNFPA "supports, or participates in the management of, a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization" in China.

"The United Nations Foundation calls the action to cut vital USA support to the UNFPA unacceptable and in stark contrast to American values", UN Foundation President and CEO Kathy Calvin said in the statement. President George W. Bush's administration also stripped funding in 2002, and claimed that the UNFPA was "complicit" in forced sterilizations and abortions in China back then as well. "The Obama administration restored this funding".

"While there is no evidence that UNFPA directly engages in coercive abortions or involuntary sterilizations in China, the agency continues to partner with the (government) on family planning, and thus can be found to support, or participate in the management of China's coercive policies", it said.

At the time, as the U.S. government announced it had pulled $34m of funds, the UNFPA said the lost funding would have prevented 2 million unwanted pregnancies and the deaths of 77,000 children.

Starting in 1979, China had a "one-child policy" enforced in many cases with state-mandated abortions.

UNFPA is the leading United Nations agency promoting access to voluntary forms of family planning - services that are essential to enabling women and girls to determine the number and spacing of their children and combating violence against women and preventing child marriage.

  • Lila Blake