In a move reminiscent of his reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule in the first days of his presidency, Donald Trump cut funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), an organization aimed at providing reproductive assistance to women around the world, on Apr. 3. The administration's decision was based on the Kemp-Kasten Amendment, an appropriations law that bars foreign aid to any country "involved in coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization."
Initially, the UNFPA, a public organization, was exempt from the Global Gag Rule, which takes U.S. foreign aid away from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that so much as mention abortion as a family planning option. However, UNFPA funding has been withheld by Republican presidents since Reagan, and by cutting funding to the UNFPA, Trump took his anti-abortion stance to a whole new level.
The UNFPA was last cut in 2002 under former President George W. Bush, and the Trump administration cut the program for similar reasons — in a statement, the State Department explained why the United States was withdrawing funds from the UNFDA:
This determination was made 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.
In response, the UNFPA called the State Department's claims "erroneous," and went on to explain the purpose of their work and how badly this cut will hurt their funding that "has saved tens of thousands of mothers from preventable deaths and disabilities."
Paired with his reinstatement of the Global Gage Rule, Trump's withdrawal of much-needed funding from the UNFPA is an affront to the health of women around the world. And it's further proof that his administration seems to care little about following the legal or medical precedent of safe abortions, and will put women at risk to achieve a political end.
No matter how Republicans try to frame it, abortion is and has always been important to women's health. On top of that, it's legal. These attacks on women's rights to access safe, legal, and affordable abortions won't lead to lower abortion rates, but to more unsafe abortions and less access to prenatal and maternal care once those pregnancies are carried through. Safe abortion shouldn't just be for the privileged, but it appears President Trump's administration is working hard to make them be just that.