Senator Leahy Criticizes Trump Administration “Misguided” Decision To Deny U.S. Funding To The UN Population Fund

The Trump Administration’s predictable decision, announced yesterday, to withhold United States funding from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), demonstrates once again this Administration’s irrational, ideological approach to family planning and reproductive health worldwide.

For the fourth year in a row, Secretary Pompeo has invoked the Kemp-Kasten amendment to withhold $32.5 million that Congress appropriated for UNFPA in fiscal year 2020.  It is especially disturbing that Secretary Pompeo, in his determination, inaccurately claims that UNFPA is “implementing a portion of its family planning program in partnership with the Chinese government entity responsible for carrying out China’s family planning practices.”

The Secretary failed to mention that the referenced entity – the National Health Commission (NHC) – does not receive any financial or technical assistance from UNFPA for family planning activities.  Rather, UNFPA’s work is focused on bringing together public and private stakeholders to help improve China’s policies on family planning and reproductive health, adolescents and youth, and gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Secretary Pompeo also failed to mention that UNFPA’s program in China, which totals less than $2 million in a country that is home to more than 18 percent of the world’s entire population, is focused on voluntary policies and practices that reduce unwanted pregnancies and protect women’s health, and that UNFPA has a long history of opposing abortion as a method of family planning. 

UNFPA continues to be unfairly targeted by the Trump Administration, which has no reluctance to put domestic politics above women’s access to family planning and reproductive health care in this country and around the world.  It is even more disturbing that this determination was made in the midst of a global pandemic that is wreaking havoc on public health systems and vulnerable populations around the world, yet no humanitarian exemption was made. 

Of additional concern is that this Administration, as in past years and contrary to previous administrations, did not even bother to conduct an investigation of the facts on the ground prior to making its cursory determination.  UNFPA continues to invite the Trump Administration to visit its country office in China to see its programs firsthand.  But this White House and State Department prefer not to be inconvenienced by the facts, and instead simply cut and pasted the same justification as last year and the years before, which has no factual basis.  As we have seen over and over, with this White House the facts don’t matter, even when it concerns women’s health.

The result is that not only will this Administration not support UNFPA’s voluntary family planning and reproductive health programs in China, it will not support UNFPA in any of the other 150 countries where it operates.  The casualties of this misguided policy are the women and girls of those countries, millions of whom struggle to obtain modern contraceptives and reproductive health care so they can space their children and survive pregnancy.   

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