GLOBAL

Trump Cuts Funding For UN Agency That Aids Women Worldwide

The agency serves mothers and children around the world

GLOBAL
UNPFA volunteer doctors examine a pregnant woman in the Philippines — REUTERS
Apr 04, 2017 at 11:04 AM ET

The U.S. State Department has formally cut American funding for the United Nations Population Fund, an agency that focuses on health care for vulnerable women and their children in 160 countries. In addition to dealing with general women’s health concerns like female genital mutilation, HIV and AIDS, and more, the UNFPA is also the largest international provider of reproductive health services. This last part is, unsurprisingly, what attracted the Trump administrations ire.

The U.S. was a founding member of the Population Fund and has been one of its biggest donors in years past. According to Reuters, the administration withdrew its support because it claims the fund “supports, or participates in the management of, a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in China.” The decision cites the Kemp-Kasten Amendment, which presidents Reagan and George W. Bush also used to make deny UNFPA funding.

In response, the agency called the claim “erroneous” in a public statement, adding, “United Nations Member States have long described UNFPA’s work in China as a force for good.”

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According to a State Department official speaking with the AP on the condition of anonymity, these funds will instead go to USAID’s Global Health Programs.

Global reproductive health advocates have sharply criticized the move. The International Women’s Health Coalition director of advocacy and policy said the decision is based in “ideology and the politics of punishment.”

According to a statement made by the executive director of the nonprofit Friends of UNFPA to BuzzFeed News, U.S. funding to the agency in 2016 alone prevented 320,000 unintended pregnancies, prevented 100,000 unsafe abortions, and helped 800,000 women access contraception.

The massive cut of $32.5 million for 2017 follows one of Trump’s first presidential decisions to reinstate a policy that withholds U.S. funding from international efforts aimed at educating women about abortions and providing them with safe access, known as the “global gag role.” While serving as a major blow to the UNFPA, the cut is not surprising following Trump’s “America First” outlook and plan to drastically cut U.S. spending on foreign aid and diplomatic programs. Other cuts to the United Nations are expected to follow.