Trumpcare might have collapsed but President Donald Trump and his administration’s unprecedented war against women’s basic reproductive and health care rights is still alive and kicking.
After reinstating a federal ban, known as the global gag rule, on U.S. funding for international health organizations that perform abortions or even provide information on the matter, the new government went a step further and actually defunded the United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA).
UNFPA started working in 1969 and is the lead U.N. organization “for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled.” It works in more than 150 countries across the world.
The rationale behind this inhumane blow to women worldwide is the 1985 Kemp-Kasten Amendment, which “prohibits foreign aid to any organization that the administration determines is involved in coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.” From 2002 to 2008, President George W. Bush used the same justification to cut UNFPA funding. At the time, his administration arguing the organization’s work in China constituted to participating in the communist nation’s “one child” policy.
The thing is, UNFPA does not provide or promote abortions. Had anyone from Trump team’s bothered to check out the organization’s website or go through the list of services it provides for women, men and young people, they would have found that out for themselves.
“UNFPA does not promote abortion as a method of family planning. Rather, it accords the highest priority to voluntary family planning to prevent unintended pregnancies to eliminate recourse to abortion,” the charity stated. “UNFPA helps governments strengthen their national health systems to deal effectively with complications of unsafe abortions, thereby saving women’s lives.”
What is even more intriguing is that the State Department did not explain exactly how the UNFPA violated the law.
To put things into perspective, here are a few other areas the agency works on:
- Putting an end to child marriages
- Fighting gender-based violence
- Helping the victims of gender-based violence
- Preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections
- Preventing female genital mutilation
- Providing maternal care and safe childbirth
- Tearing down barriers to gender equality
- Promoting investments in education and opportunities for girls
“The irony is that UNFPA provides no financial support to the government of China for any program whatsoever,” said Peter Yeo, vice president of public policy at the United Nations Foundation. “So I don’t think this is a fact-based determination process. I think they know what they wanted to [do] and they’ll throw some language against the wall and call it a 'reasonable determination.'”
In 2016, the United Nation’s agency prevented an estimated 100,000 unsafe abortions and 10,000 maternal deaths, provided access to contraceptives to 800,000 people and delivers more than 7,000 babies without a single maternal death at Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp.
During this period, U.S. was UNFPA's third-largest donor, contributing $75 million to its operations.
How can an administration that so ardently claims to be pro-life defund an international charity whose basic objectives include ensuring “every childbirth is safe” and “every pregnancy is wanted”?
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Cathal McNaughton