US refuses to fund United Nation Population Fund over abortion issues


On April 3, 2017, the US State Department announced that it is halting funding for the United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA) for the year 2017, because of China’s family planning policies.

The decision to withhold funding of the UNFPA was based on the fact “that China’s family planning policies still involve the use of coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization”. According to the French Press Agency (“AFP”), this represents “$32.5 million in funds to be withheld from the UNFPA for the 2017 fiscal year, which the US government will re-allocate to other international health programs. Based on its internet site, the UNFPA received a total of $ 979 million in 2015. “

Nevertheless, the US has not announced any decrease in family planning allocations, estimated at $600 million.

This decision comes after the so-called “Mexico City” Policy was reinstated on January 23, 2017, named for the city where then-President Ronald Reagan first unveiled it during the UN International Population conference in 1984.

At the time, in August 1984, President Reagan had implemented the Mexico Policy by virtue of the 1961 « Foreign Assistance Act” which prohibits non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) from “receiving American tax-payers money for abortions as a method of family planning, or to actively promote or require anyone to practice an abortion.”

This decree passed under Ronald Reagan, the so-called « Mexico City » policy broadens the scope of the “Foreign Assistance Act” by prohibiting USAID financing of NGO’s regardless of whether they actually fund abortion practices to include “carrying out services related to abortion such as informing, counseling, or paying adverts in favor of abortion” or “lobbying foreign governments to legalize or make abortion available for women in their country”. This prohibition on funding also applies to NGO’s who receive funds other than those from USAID to fund abortion-related services, or who receive funds via an agreement with another association benefiting from American funding who then transfers the money to them.

Opponents of the Mexico City policy call it the “Global Gag Rule”. The policy has been rescinded and reinstated by subsequent administrations along party lines: rescinded by President Clinton, and then reinstated without any changes by President Bush, before being rescinded again by President Obama.

Donald Trump’s new decree gives the Mexico City policy new impetus by banning abortion funding from other U.S. global health assistance providers. If NGO’s are not in compliance with the new regulatory directives they will no longer receive USAID funding, nor any other funding from any American global assistance program, no matter which state finances the project.

The scope of the decree is thus extended to NGO’s financed by the UN Population Fund, as the case under President Bush, when the UNFPA had been accused of financing abortions to support the Chinese policy of one single child per household.

The 1994 Declaration at the International Population and Development, Conference, where 179 countries participated, stated that “Abortion must never, in any case, be promoted as a method of family planning.”

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