April 4, 2017 – This week the U.S. State Department announced its decision to eliminate vital support for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the largest multilateral provider of family planning and reproductive health services working in over 150 countries.
In a letter to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, the State Department said it plans to eliminate support for UNFPA based on a theory of guilt-by-association because UNFPA’s program in China works with the nation’s family-planning body. The State Department cut the funding despite finding “no evidence” that UNFPA had itself engaged in any wrongdoing. The UNFPA has consistently worked in China to promote human rights by demonstrating the importance of allowing individuals and couples to make their own family-planning decisions free from coercion.
UNFPA is the leading United Nations agency promoting access to voluntary forms of family planning – services that are essential to enabling women and girls to determine the number and spacing of their children and combating violence against women and preventing child marriage.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“Without the United Nations Population Fund, millions of women and girls across the globe—far too many living in poverty or crisis areas—could be left with nowhere to turn for the information or services they need to make informed reproductive health choices.
“Since taking office, the Trump Administration has taken every opportunity to attack women’s reproductive health and rights in the U.S. and around the world.
“Now more than ever the international human rights community must work to ensure that the health and lives of the world’s most vulnerable women and girls are protected.”
The United States government was involved in the creation of UNPFA in 1969. In 2016 alone, U.S. support allowed UNFPA to provide 800,000 people worldwide with contraception and averted almost 100,000 unsafe abortions. Without U.S. support, UNFPA programs that protect the health and lives of women, girls and young people in more than 155 countries will inevitably be scaled back.