House Panel Moves to Cut US Contributions to UN Population Fund

A pregnant woman in Timor-Leste, where the United Nations Population Fund supplied equipment to aid improving child delivery and reducing maternal mortality. Photo by: Martine Perret / UN

A House committee has approved a reform proposal to stop annual U.S. contributions to the U.N. Population Fund, or UNFPA, a U.N. program that supports family planning and reproductive health initiatives in developing countries.

The reform proposal cuts some $50 million from the federal government’s budget for contributions to U.N. programs and agencies, and seeks to suspend the country’s annual contributions to the UNFPA.

The Republican-led House Foreign Affairs committee voted 23-17 to send it to the full House floor for consideration. The Associated Press notes this could be a prelude to the committee’s session next week, when they consider a proposal to withhold or slash contributions to the United Nations.

House Republicans said they are supporting the reform proposal because of UNFPA’s support for “coerced abortion” and similar practices as part of China’s One Child policy. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, added that UNFPA does not need U.S. funding because it has $500 million in unspent funds.

“So why, when Americans face a struggling economy, skyrocketing deficits, and crushing debt, should our taxpayer dollars go to an organization that supports coercive abortion and is flush with cash?” the congresswoman said. “Again, there are much better uses for taxpayer funds than sending millions to UNFPA.”

Meanwhile, Democrats on the Lehtinen’s committee have argued UNFPA should not be punished for China’s policies and stressed the program is doing important work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti and several other disaster-hit and conflict-torn countries.

“Don’t hold the U.N. culpable for what a sovereign country does, as obnoxious as it is,” Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, said, according to The Associated Press.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributes to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.