President Donald Trump has cut all future funding to the United Nations Population Fund, costing the U.N. family planning, sexual and reproductive health agency its second largest supporter and donor.
The announcement, which was expected as early as last week and had been widely anticipated since Trump’s election, came Monday evening, as a U.S. State Department memo citing the Kemp-Kasten amendment was made public.
The Kemp-Kasten amendment — first enacted in 1985 and previously used by other Republican presidents —prohibits foreign aid to an organization that is involved in coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.
The State Department letter, dated March 30, 2017, provides some information on the history of the Chinese government’s state-sponsored family planning program — which is known as the One-Child Policy and has been phased out — as well as statements on how the UNFPA works closely with the Chinese government.
As Devex reported yesterday, while the UNFPA has a program in China, it does not do work that involves abortions, or sterilizations, let alone procedures that are not voluntary.
In a statement issued early Tuesday morning, UNFPA said that they regretted the funding decision, 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 statement read.
Women’s health, human rights and U.N. observer organizations quickly denounced the decision.
“The U.S. is one of the largest contributors to the UNFPA, and eliminating U.S. funds threatens the health and rights of millions of girls and women around the world, particularly those in crisis situations,” U.N. Foundation President and CEO Kathy Calvin said in a statement Monday evening.
“UNFPA does not fund or perform abortions or forced sterilizations anywhere in the world. Instead, the agency offers voluntary family planning to prevent unintended pregnancies which, in turn, empowers girls and women to pursue an education, earn an income, and live more prosperous lives.”
The U.S. contributed upwards of $69 million to the UNFPA each year, considering a combination of “core” and “non-core” resources.
The Trump administration is currently pushing forward a broad swath of budget cuts that have hit foreign aid spending especially hard, as it seeks to boost investment in the military. The move has met widespread opposition from Democrats and some senior Republicans.
Amy Lieberman is a reporter for Devex, based out of New York, where she covers global development around the city and out of the United Nations. She has previously worked as a freelancer, reporting on the environment, social justice issues, immigration and development. Her coverage has appeared in The Guardian, The Atlantic, Slate and The Los Angeles Times, among other outlets. She received her M.A. in politics and government from Columbia Journalism School in 2014.
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