President Donald Trump recently took yet another step to crack down on U.S. funding of abortion around the globe — a move that’s creating a fair bit of controversy and consternation among reproductive activists.
After re-implimenting the so-called Mexico City Policy just days after he got into office — a ban on federal funding or aid to international nonprofits that either provide or promote abortion by offering patients information about the procedure — Trump has also cut funds to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the international body’s family planning and maternal health arm.
The decision is rooted in the Kemp-Kasten amendment, a measure that was first passed in 1985 to ban foreign aid to organizations that appear to be involved in forced sterilization or forced abortion. With U.S. funds constituting 7 percent of the UNFPA budget, the organization is worried about the impact the newfound cuts will have on women and children across the globe; the total amount cut for the current fiscal year is $32.5 million.
According to the Trump administration, the funding freeze is due to the UNFPA’s work with the Chinese government — a government that Trump officials said forces people into sterilization or abortion.
The allegation is that the agency works with China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission, which enforces the country’s controversial “two-child policy, permitting just two children in each family, as the Associated Press reported.
But the UNFPA said this simply isn’t the case, NPR reported.
“The United Nations Population Fund regrets the decision by the United States to deny any future funding for its life-saving work the world over,” the agency said in an April 4 statement. “This decision is based on the erroneous claim that UNFPA ‘supports, or participates in the management of, a programme of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization’ in China.”
The text continued, “UNFPA refutes this claim, as all of its work promotes the human rights of individuals and couples to make their own decisions, free of coercion or discrimination.”
The agency went on to say that the funding from the U.S. has helped to save tens of thousands of mothers from death and disability, noting that much of the life-saving work takes place in unstable areas such as Syria, Iraq and Sudan.
“We have always valued the United States as a trusted partner and leader in helping to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled,” the statement said. “We, therefore, look forward to continuing our work with the United States to address these global concerns and to restore our strong partnership to save the lives of women and girls globally, within the framework of the global development goals, thereby leaving no one behind.”
In the end, the Trump administration’s move wasn’t unexpected, as, much like the Mexico City Policy, the decision to withhold funds to UNFPA typically happens under Republican administrations, with those monies returning when Democrats take office, as the AP noted. Still, that hasn’t stopped negative reaction from flowing in.
“It will directly impact the poorest girls and women on the planet,” Seema Jalan, executive director of the Universal Access Project at the UN Foundation, said of the announcement, according to NBC. “They have no recourse.”
But despite the pushback, reports have noted that funds will be diverted to U.S. Agency for International Development, with monies being given to organizations that help individuals and families across the globe. Others, in fact, took a positive view on the decision.
“We commend President Donald Trump for making it very clear the United States will not support a United Nations agency that promotes the killing of innocent babies,” Mat Staver, president of Liberty Counsel, a conservative legal firm, said in a statement. “Obama tragically advanced a pro-abortion agenda and poured millions of dollars into UNFPA to support the death of many unborn children. This latest action by the Trump Administration is a positive step as we strive to eliminate the funding of human genocide in America and internationally.”
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