President Donald Trump just cut $32.5 million from one of the United Nations’ lead agencies as part of his effort to crack down on U.S. abortion funding around the world.
The funding, which had already been earmarked for this current fiscal year, will be yanked from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN’s family planning agency, NPR reported this week.
The decision comes more than two months after Trump reinstated the so-called “Mexico City policy,” which bars U.S. aid from going to nongovernmental organizations that fund or promote abortion procedures. However, the “Mexico City policy” — so named because President Ronald Reagan was in Mexico City when he announced the rule in 1984 — applies only to NGOs, and the UNFPA is classified as a “public international organization.”
Trump, in deciding to pull the UNFPA’s U.S. funding, is instead invoking the Kemp-Kasten Amendment, a measure first passed in 1985 that bars American tax dollars from going to any organization that the president determines “supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.”
The amendment was first instituted in response to China, which had several years prior invoked its controversial “one-child policy.”
In October 2015, China officially did away with the policy but still set limits on number of births per individual — it’s now a “two-child policy.” And the most recent review by the State Department, which was published last month, found that, in some cases, the policy “resulted in forced abortions (sometimes at advanced stages of pregnancy).”
The Trump administration believes the Chinese government forces people into sterilization and abortion. Also, the State Department alleges that the UN fund works with China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission, which is tasked with enforcing the “two-child policy,” according to The Associated Press.
But the UNFPA strongly disagrees. In a statement of its own, the agency said it “regrets” the United States’ decision to “deny any future funding for its life-saving work the world over.”
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. 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. Indeed, United Nations Member States have long described UNFPA’s work in China as a force for good.
The U.S.’s funding accounts for roughly 7 percent of the UNFPA’s international budget, according to agency officials, who claim the American contribution in 2016 enabled the fund to save thousands of women from dying in childbirth, prevented 947,000 unintended pregnancies, and prevented 295,000 unsafe abortions.
The UNFPA statement continued:
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. 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.
Trump's decision to withhold UNFPA funding is not unique to his administration. The decision to cut funding for the U.N. family planning arm occurs often under Republican administrations, and it is frequently reversed when a Democrat is in the White House.
The money will still be used to help people internationally. Rather than going to the UNFPA, the funds will be redirected to the U.S. Agency for International Development, which conducts similar initiatives related to family planning.