Reversing Another Obama Policy, Trump Pulls Funding for UN Population Fund

By Patrick Goodenough | April 4, 2017 | 4:43am EDT

( – The Trump administration said Monday it was ending funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), long a target of conservatives over concerns that its work in China abets the communist authorities’ controversial population limitation programs.

The administration’s first confirmed cut to a U.N. agency will cost the UNFPA $32.5 million.

Its budget proposal for fiscal year 2018 calls for unspecified reductions to contributions to the U.N. budget, and further “seeks to reduce or end direct funding for international organizations whose missions do not substantially advance U.S. foreign policy interests, are duplicative, or are not well-managed.”

The move comes as a follow up to President Trump’s decision, three days after his inauguration, to restore Reagan-era policy that denies federal funding to abortion-supporting or promoting groups.

The State Department said the determination to cut UNFPA funding “was made based on the fact that China’s family planning policies still involve the use of coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization, and UNFPA partners on family planning activities with the Chinese government agency responsible for these coercive policies.”

The 1985 “Kemp-Kasten amendment” prohibits federal funding for any agency that “supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.”

The Reagan administration first withheld UNFPA funding under the amendment in 1986, and the first Bush administration followed suit in 1989. President Clinton restored the funding in 1993, before President George W. Bush defunded the UNFPA from 2002 to 2008, in a move costing the U.N. organization a total of some $244 million.

President Obama restored funding soon after taking office. In FY 2016 it gave $67.88 million to the agency in assessed and voluntary contributions.

China says its 'one-child' and subsequent 'two-child' policies have helped to reduce the country’s population by more than 400 million people. Critics say the program involves forced abortion and sterilization, punitive fines for policy violators and other rights abuses (Photo: Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission)

The UNFPA has long denied that its work in China supports Beijing’s efforts to curb population growth through the “one-child” and subsequent “two-child” policies, which critics say are characterized by coercive measures such as forced abortion and sterilization.

It did so again on Monday in a statement regretting the administration’s decision.

“This decision is based on the erroneous claim that UNFPA ‘supports, or participates in the management of, a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization’ in China,” it 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 agency said it was being denied U.S. funding for “its life-saving work the world over.”

“The support we received over the years from the government and people of the United States has saved tens of thousands of mothers from preventable deaths and disabilities, and especially now in the rapidly developing global humanitarian crises,” it said.

‘The blood of Chinese women and babies is on our hands’

China introduced its “one-child” policy in 1979, restricting couples to one child only, with some exceptions – for example some rurally-based or ethnic minority couples were allowed a second child if their firstborn was a girl.

Over the decades since it has been enforced through forced abortions and sterilizations, punitive fines and other penalties for violators. Critics have described it as one of the most far-reaching government-enforced human rights violations in history.

In a society with a cultural preference for baby boys, sex-selective abortions – although illegal – have contributed to a lopsided male-female ratio which experts warn will have troubling implications for future generations.

In 2015 Beijing loosened the policy to allow two children.

Women’s Rights Without Frontiers president Reggie Littlejohn told a panel discussion alongside the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women session in New York last month that forced abortions and the conditions that give rise to sex-selective abortions of baby girls continue under the “two-child” policy.

“I believe that any independent, unbiased investigation into UNFPA’s activities in China will lead to the inescapable conclusion that they are complicit with China’s population control practices, which include forced abortion and involuntary sterilization,” Littlejohn said.

“To the extent that the global community is funding the UNFPA, the blood of Chinese women and babies is on our hands.” 

At least two of the four men and women who have led the UNFPA since its formation are on record as having praised the Chinese birth-limitation efforts.

“China has every reason to feel proud of and pleased with its remarkable achievements made in its family planning policy and control of its population growth over the past 10 years,” UNFPA executive director Nafis Sadik of Pakistan told the Xinhua news agency in April 1991.

“China made some outstanding achievements in a very short time and fulfilled its commitment to the world,” she said. “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.”

Ten years later Sadik’s successor, Thoraya Obaid of Saudi Arabia, also praised China’s policy, according to a March 2001 report in China’s People’s Daily.

As a general policy, UNFPA claims not to “promote abortion as a method of family planning.”

At the same time, however, it is a key partner of two of the world’s largest abortion providers, Marie Stopes International and the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

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