Trump administration cuts UN family planning funds

United Nations | State Department cites agency’s involvement with China as one reason for the decision
by Samantha Gobba
Posted 4/05/17, 02:08 pm

Following the lead of Republican administrations dating back to President Ronald Reagan, the Trump administration announced Monday the United States will no longer provide funding to the United Nations Population Fund.

Citing UNFPA’s involvement with “coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization,” a reference to funding it sends to China, the State Department cut the millions of dollars the United States has given to the organization since President Barack Obama reinstated funding in 2009.

In 2015, the United States contributed $75 million to UNFPA, which took in $979 million that year.

The organization denied any involvement with China’s coercive family planning program, calling the State Department’s claim “erroneous,” and insisting “all of its work promotes the human rights of individuals and couples to make their own decisions, free of coercion or discrimination.”

But leading pro-life organizations support the Trump administration’s decision, saying UNFPA does fund China’s family planning policies, which involve forced sterilizations and abortions, as well as intimidation, to get women to comply.

“It affects the entire life of Chinese women,” Heritage Foundation research associate Olivia Enos told me. “If you get pregnant and you don’t receive permission for that in advance from the Chinese government, they can still ask you to abort your child. It’s not even a limit on the number of children, the Chinese government literally decides who can have kids and who cannot have kids.”

Last year, Heritage produced a report calling on Congress to eliminate U.S. funding for UNFPA, based on its support for China’s national Population and Family Planning Commission. Heritage also pointed out that under the 1995 Kemp-Kasten Amendment, a revision of a 1994 appropriations bill, the president could cut funding to organizations that not only directly provide coercive family planning measures but support other agencies that do.

While Heritage has pushed for UNFPA defunding, the administration’s decision came as a surprise to Stefano Gennarini, director of legal studies at the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam).

He called the move “great news,” adding he didn’t expect it this soon in Trump’s presidency. Former President George W. Bush waited until his second year in office to defund the organization, while Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama reinstated funding their first years in office.

Although UNFPA doesn’t earmark funds for forced sterilization or forced abortion, Gennarini said, funding sent to the Chinese government is impossible to justify: “There’s the unconscionability that the UNFPA is giving money to a government that is forcibly sterilizing women and forcibly aborting children.”

The UNFPA funding cut comes just months after Trump reinstated the Mexico City policy, another Reagan-era rule that blocks funding to NGOs that promote or perform abortion.

Samantha Gobba

Samantha is a former WORLD correspondent.

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