US to withdraw funding for UN Population Fund over abortion concerns

WASHINGTON • The United States government plans to stop funding the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) because of the organisation's "coercive" family planning practices, including providing abortions, officials in Washington said.

According to a State Department official on Monday, President Donald Trump has instructed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson "to take all necessary actions, to the extent permitted by law, to ensure that US taxpayer dollars do not fund organisations or programmes that support or participate in the management of a programme of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilisation".

The funding cut would go into effect during the 2017 fiscal year.

The decision to terminate US donations to the UN agency was "based on the fact that China's family planning policies still involve the use of coercive abortion and involuntary sterilisation, and UNFPA partners on family planning activities with the Chinese government agency responsible for these coercive policies", the statement said.

"The determination will result in withholding US$32.5 million (S$45 million) of fiscal year 2017 funding, provided for UNFPA," it said, adding that the funds instead will be directed to other global health programmes.

The UNFPA in 2015 received contributions totalling US$979 million, according to its website.

The organisation, which provides reproductive health and birth control services in more than 150 countries and territories, said yesterday that it "regrets" the decision by Washington "to deny any future funding for its life-saving work the world over".

The UNFPA statement vigorously pushed back against "erroneous" US charges that it plays a role in forced abortions and sterilisations in China.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2017, with the headline 'US to withdraw funding for UN Population Fund over abortion concerns'. Print Edition | Subscribe