United States cuts funding to United Nations women's health fund

04/05/2017 03:00 | 5

United States cuts funding to United Nations women's health fund

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 U.N. Population Fund will lose $32.5 million in funding from the 2017 budget, the State Department said, with funds shifted to similar programs at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

'This withdrawal of funding will place at risk the UNFPA's essential role as a champion for ending early and forced child marriage and female genital mutilation, two practices that jeopardise the health and futures of millions of girls annually. The organization works in China to make reproductive health program voluntary and rights-based and has advocated against the country's one-child policy.

The U.N. Population Fund said it regretted the US move, adding that it is "erroneous" to suggest it was complicit in China's policies.

The UN Population Fund in 2015 received contributions totaling US$979 million, according to its website.

The money that had been allocated to the UNFPA for the fiscal year 2017 will be "transferred and reprogrammed to the Global Health Programmes account", the State Department said.

At a press conference, United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric predicted the funding loss "could have devastating effects on the health of vulnerable women and girls and their families around the world".

"In 2001, the USA cut funding to UNFPA because an investigation, headed by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, found that UNFPA was complicit in the coercive implementation of China's one-child policy", explained Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women's Rights Without Frontiers, in the National Review in 2011.

Trump last month proposed a budget that would cut U.S. diplomacy and aid by 28 percent, including cuts at the United Nations.

However, BuzzFeed notes that "t$3 he State Department's determination contradicts its own 2001 inquiry into whether UNFPA funding supports coercive Chinese reproductive health policies". President George W. Bush's administration also stripped funding in 2002, and claimed that the UNFPA was "complicit" in forced sterilizations and abortions in China back then as well.

The agency said it was being denied USA funding for "its life-saving work the world over".

In a letter to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, the State Department said it plans to eliminate support for UNFPA based on a theory of guilt-by-association because UNFPA's program in China works with the nation's family-planning body.

With the support of the U.S., previous year UNFPA says it was able to save the lives of thousands of women from dying during pregnancy and childbirth, prevent unintended pregnancies, and unsafe abortions.

Littlejohn said she also would like to see a new investigation of UNFPA's work in China.

Trump's reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy was criticized in February by Bill and Melinda Gates, whose foundation has as its focus the support of family planning across the globe.

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