Donald Trump admin cuts off UN agency's funds over abortion concern

The State Department said on Monday it was ending USA funding for the United Nations Population Fund, the worldwide body's agency focused on family planning as well as maternal and child health in more than 150 countries.

"The U.S. government played a central role in the creation and launch of UNFPA in 1969 and has been an active member of UNFPA's Executive Board over the last 45 years under both Republican and Democratic administrations". The UNFPA is an organization that focuses on family planning and maternal and child health in more than 150 countries worldwide. The amendment affects organizations that support or participate in coercive abortion programs or involuntary sterilization.

UNFPA responded in a statement by thanking the U.S. for its prior contributions, but said it was an "erroneous claim" it supports coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in China.

"If our problem is with the Chinese government's policies, why are we taking it out on an organization providing basic reproductive health care in 149 other countries?" Still, the memo acknowledged there was no evidence of United Nations support for forced abortions or sterilisation in China.

"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", it said.

The money that was meant to go to the UNFPA in 2017 will now be directed towards supporting family planning, maternal and reproductive health activities in developing countries, and will be used by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Trump's move will pull $76 million from the UNFPA ― about 7 percent of its budget.

It comes after Trump in January reinstated the so-called Mexico City Policy that withholds USA funding for worldwide organisations that perform abortions or provide information about abortion.

The U.N. agency's mission involves promoting universal access to family planning and reproductive health, with a goal of reducing maternal deaths and practices like female genital mutilation.

According to a State Department official, President Donald Trump has instructed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson "to take all necessary actions, to the extent permitted by law, to ensure that U.S. taxpayer dollars do not fund organizations or programs that support or participate in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization".

The money that had been allocated to the UNFPA for the fiscal year 2017 will be "transferred and reprogrammed to the Global Health Programs account", the state department said.

Associated Press writer Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations and AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.

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  • Carolyn Briggs