UNFPA Urges U.S. To Reinstate Funds To Protect Women

By Beh Lih Yi

The United Nations’ family planning agency has urged the United States to reinstate its funding, which has been cut for the third year over abortion rules, to help protect the lives of millions of women and girls.

The U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) said the United States has withheld funding for the third year over its work in China despite denying accusations that it was involved in “coercive abortion” as part of China’s population control programme.

The cuts came after Donald Trump’s administration in 2017 reinstated a policy known as the “global gag rule” that requires NGOs receiving U.S. family planning funds to certify they do not provide abortions or abortion advice.

“It was a big blow for us to lose this funding,” said UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem, a paediatrician and epidemiologist from Panama before she took the post in 2017.

“The United States funding is very precious to UNFPA and we continue the dialogue in the hope they would return to the funding picture,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview over Skype.

Dr-Natalia-Kanem-1

The agency, which works in more than 150 countries on family planning as well as maternal and child health, has foreshadowed that it faces a shortfall of $350 million over the next three years due in part to the U.S. fund cut.

UNFPA – which also works to end child marriage and female genital mutilation – said the cut impedes its work but Kanem pledged not to fail the 200 million plus women and girls globally that have no access to contraception.

Source: Thomas Reuters Foundation

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