Trump Administration Slashes Funding for Reproductive Health Through UN Population Fund
The cut represents President Trump's first move to curtail funding for the United Nations.
On Monday, the US State Department announced that it will end all funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN agency that focuses on maternal and child health, as well as family planning in more than 150 countries.
As of 2015, the US was the fourth-largest voluntary donor to the UNFPA.
Starting in fiscal year of 2017, the State Department plans to withhold $32.5 million in funding because the UNFPA “supports, or participates in the management of, a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.”
The cut follows President Trump’s reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy in January that refuses US funding for international organizations that perform or advocate for abortions.
Known by critics as “the global gag rule,” the cut could affect up to 27 million women and couples and is set to reverse huge strides made for women’s health around the world.
In a statement on its website, the UNFPA said it regrets the decision by the United States to deny any future funding and refutes the “erroneous” claim that the organization supports coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in China.
Its mission, it clarifies, is to deliver “a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.”
"The support we received over the years from the government and people of the United States has saved tens of thousands of mothers from preventable deaths and disabilities,” the statement continued. “And especially now in the rapidly developing global humanitarian crises.”
With US support, the UNFPA saved the lives of 2,340 women during pregnancy and childbirth in 2016, according to the agency.
During President George W. Bush’s second term in office, the US pulled $34 million of funding to the UNFPA under the assumption that its presence in China supported the country’s “one child” family planning policy.
The UNFPA said that the funding would have prevented 2 million unwanted pregnancies and the deaths of 77,000 children.
The move is in keeping with a statement President Trump released on March 16, in which he called for a 28% cut to US foreign assistance.
Around 120 retired generals and admirals have weighed in, calling foreign assistance vital to national security. Over 100 faith leaders also joined together to draft a letter in opposition to foreign assistance cuts.
Despite the resistance, President Trump continues to push the agenda to defund foreign aid and funnel that money to the Department of Defense in 2018.
UN officials argue that dollars spent on diplomacy are more effective than military spending in combating terrorism, and that such cuts could trigger further global instability.