Long standing concerns regarding the support by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for China’s coercive
population control program have led President Trump to announce via a State
department memo and letter to U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman
Bob Corker that U.S. funding to UNFPA will end.
In the letter, the State Department said it
was dropping the funding because UNFPA "supports, or participates in the
management of, a program of coercive abortion or involuntary
sterilization". Funds currently allocated to UNFPA will be transferred to
the “Global Health Account” where it will be used for family planning, maternal
health and non-abortive reproductive health activities. According to the
previously announced expansion of the pro-life Mexico City Policy, these funds
will not be allotted to any foreign non-governmental organization that performs
or promotes abortion.
The decision is based on application of
existing U.S. law, the Kemp-Kasten Amendment, which was enacted for the first
time in 1985 and prohibits foreign aid to any organization that the
administration determines is involved in coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.
The memo recognizes that while the China’s one-child policy was ‘modified’ in
2015 to allow two children per married couple it states the finding that “The
Chinese Government employs measures such as coercive abortion and involuntary
sterilization to carry out its population- control policies.”
The decision relied on information
contained in the U.S. 2016 Human Rights Report for China which the memo states,
“The Report notes that China's
population-control policy relies on measures such as mandatory pregnancy
examinations and coercive abortions and sterilizations.”
UNFPA responded to the not
unexpected announcement by stating that it “regrets
the decision by the United States” and charged that the “decision is based on the erroneous claim that UNFPA ‘supports, or
participates in the management of, a programme of coercive abortion or
involuntary sterilization’ 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.”
UNFPA is heavily invested in China; in its 2015 Country
programme document for China, UNFPA lists a proposed $22 million in
spending for programs including for “sexual and reproductive health” and
“population dynamics”. In the “Situation analysis” section, UNFPA acknowledges “An estimated 13 million abortions occur annually, about half of which are among
youth” and “22 per cent of female
youth reported having had sex, 21 per cent of whom had unplanned pregnancies,
with 91 per cent ending in abortions.”
UNFPA expresses no concern for the 13
million abortions that take place every year, 6.5 million of which involve
young women, nor does it indicate any interest in learning why the abortion
rate for young women is so high. One can only conjecture that it already knows
the answer—pregnancy among unmarried young women violates China’s birth policy
leading to coerced and even forced abortion—an unrestrained and expansive human
rights violation which UNFPA chooses to ignore.
The U.S. 2016 Human Rights Report for China
helped in the defunding decision and provides details on the human
rights violations affecting women in China every day:
pertaining to single women and unmarried couples remain unchanged. Children
born to single mothers or unmarried couples are considered ‘outside of the
policy’ and subject to the social compensation fee and the denial of legal
documents, such as birth documents and the “hukou” residence permit.”
government imposed a coercive birth-limitation policy that, despite lifting
one-child-per-family restrictions, denied women the right to decide the number
of their children and in some cases resulted in forced abortions (sometimes at
advanced stages of pregnancy).
the law and in practice, there continued to be financial and administrative
penalties for births that exceed birth limits or otherwise violate regulations.
The National Health and Family Planning Commission announced it would continue
to impose fines, called “social compensation fees,” for policy violations. The
law as implemented requires each woman with an unauthorized pregnancy to abort
or pay the social compensation fee, which can reach 10 times a person’s annual
disposable income. The exact level of the fee varied widely from province to
province. Those with financial means often paid the fee so that their children
born in violation of the birth restrictions would have access to services. Some
parents avoided the fee by hiding a child born in violation of the law with
friends or relatives.
-Government statistics on the percentage of
abortions during the year that were nonelective were not available.
in prior years, population control policy continued to rely on social pressure,
education, propaganda, and economic penalties as well as on measures such as
mandatory pregnancy examinations and coercive abortions and sterilizations.
found to have a pregnancy in violation of the law or those who helped another
to evade state controls could face punitive measures, such as onerous fines,
job loss, demotion, and loss of promotion opportunity (for those in the public
sector or state-owned enterprises), expulsion from the CCP (membership is an
unofficial requirement for many jobs), and other administrative
the provinces where provincial regulations do not explicitly require
termination of pregnancy or remedial measures, some local officials still coerced
abortions to avoid surpassing population growth quotas.
law lists seven activities that authorities are prohibited from undertaking
when enforcing birth control regulations, which include beating individuals and
their families, destroying property or crops, confiscating property to cover
the amount of the fee, detaining relatives, and conducting pregnancy tests on
unmarried women. Forced abortion is not listed.
It is clear from its own documents that
UNFPA plays an active supporting role in China’s population control program.
The evidence of the human rights violations inherent in the 13 million
abortions that take place every year can no longer be denied or ignored by
UNFPA. UNFPA needs to reevaluate its focus on promotion of “safe abortion” in
pro-life countries and recognize that coerced and forced abortions are taking
place every day in China.
The U.S. decision was one that UNFPA and
its supporters had been expecting. Pro-abortion donor countries have already
increased their financial commitments, including Sweden and Iceland.
Grateful Americans who care
about human rights violations in China ought to be heartened by this defunding decision.