On Monday, the Trump administration officially halted funding to an organization that supports the maternal, reproductive and sexual health of women and children around the world.
The U.S. State Department officials pulled funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) citing the 1985 Kemp-Kasten Amendment, which is an appropriations law that "prohibits foreign aid to any organization that the administration determines is involved in coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization," according to the Center for Health and Gender Equity.
Every Republican president since Ronald Reagan has cut off U.S. funding to the organization, under the guise of curtailing the support of overseas programs that provide abortions.
The last time the U.S. cut off aid to the fund was 2002 under former President George W. Bush, due to the UNFPA's presence in China, which was taken as support for their coercive "One Child" policy. However, the funding was almost immediately restored after Barack Obama took office, as it has been by other Democratic administrations.
The UNFPA has served as the world's largest fund for family planning and reproductive health, specifically geared toward supporting the developing world in more than 150 countries. It provides medical treatment to ensure safe pregnancies and delivery, works in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, helps prevent sexually transmitted diseases, and ensures equality for women.
In 2016 it helped prevent 947,000 unintended pregnancies, saved over 2,300 women from pregnancy-related death, and gave access to contraceptives to three million couples, according to numbers from the organization.
The U.S. portion of funding for the UNFPA was about $76 million, comprising 7 percent of the Fund's operating budget, according to The Huffington Post.
However, the UNPFA is specifically prohibited from funding or providing abortions, and even a Bush-era U.S. State Department fact-finding paper determined it doesn't support the One Child policy. In 2011, the UNPFA shifted its focus in China from family planning to policy advocacy.
“The UNFPA no longer provides any financial support to the Chinese government to support its family planning program. Not a dollar,” Peter Yeo, vice president of public policy at the United Nations Foundation, told The Huffington Post. “So I’m not quite frankly sure how you make this Kemp-Kasten determination with a straight face.”
Even the State Department's determination touting the funding cut seems to acknowledge this, conceding that there's "no evidence that UNFPA directly engages in coercive abortions or involuntary sterilizations in China." However, the act of working in China at all is seen by the Trump administration staffers as tacitly supporting their harsh reproductive policies, and therefore, violating U.S. law.
The UNFPA press release responding to the funding cut touts that U.S. financial support has "saved tens of thousands of mothers from preventable deaths and disabilities" and that with U.S. help, "UNFPA was combating gender-based violence and reducing the scourge of maternal deaths in the world’s most fragile settings, in areas of conflict and natural disasters."
[H/T The Huffington Post]