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US withdraws $32M for U.N. Population Fund

US withdraws $32M for U.N. Population Fund

According to a letter sent to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and reported on by The Independent, the Trump administration is cutting the funding on the basis that the UNFPA supports "coercive abortion" in China.

In its statement, the State Department referred to a presidential directive signed by Trump in January, which banned US funding for any worldwide organizations providing abortion services or advice.

In a statement, the agency said: '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'.

The state department said the funds it was withholding would be transferred to the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to support family planning, maternal and reproductive health activities.

Since the U.S. is one of the oldest development partners of the UN and all it's subsidiary agencies, the UNFPA expressed disappointment at the withdrawal saying: "The United States, one of our founding members, has long partnered with UNFPA to protect and promote the reproductive health and rights of women and girls, thereby fostering healthier women and girls and their families".

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UNFPA swiftly set the record straight in a statement, describing the United States' claim as "erroneous". The Trump administration has vowed to cut all dollars for climate change programming, and also restored the so-called global gag rule, which prohibits funding to non-governmental groups that support even voluntary abortions. This means that taxpayer dollars will not support organizations that promote or participate in the management of a coercive abortion program - like China's.

In 2015, UNFPA helped 18 million women access modern contraceptives and reproductive health services in 46 of the world's poorest countries. 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 regretted the United States move and argued it was "erroneous" to suggest it was complicit in China's policies. "This is wonderful news both for the people in China who are most vulnerable - the women and babies who are most vulnerable to what the Chinese government has been doing these last several decades".

That "Mexico City policy" - named for the city where then-President Ronald Reagan first unveiled it - did not apply to UNFPA because the agency is a "public global organization" rather than a non-governmental group. "The UNFPA is going to employ some of these [Chinese demographic] experts to work in other countries and popularize China's experiences in population growth control and family planning".

The UN Foundation's statement said the UNFPA's work was of critical importance, providing more than nine million people with HIV/AIDS preventative services, domestic violence counselling, pregnancy check-ups and safe childhood services. No one should applaud China's announced "two-child" policy; instead we should be insisting they abolish intrusive and abusive birth restrictions forever.

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