July 21, 2017

Last night, the Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives voted to advance a bill with $10 billion in proposed funding cuts to the State Department, US Agency for International Development, and other international agencies, which would have devastating impacts on women and girls and US global leadership.

The bill places a cap on family planning and reproductive health spending at $461 million—a $146.5 million reduction that would bring funding for these critical programs back to 2008 levels. While less harmful than the Trump Administration’s request to zero out this funding, if enacted it would seriously undermine US efforts to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights and reduce maternal mortality around the world.

The House bill crowns these bilateral reproductive-health funding reductions with the elimination of all funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the largest international provider of contraception, family planning, and other reproductive health services. Although the Trump Administration already announced that it would withhold contributions to UNFPA over false allegations about the organization’s work in China, the House bill takes that a step further by legislatively prohibiting any US dollars from going to UNFPA. By cutting off funds to UNFPA, the United States is undermining its own interests as well as causing untold damage to the health and rights of women worldwide. The elimination of US funding will seriously impair UNFPA’s global work, which in 2016 included preventing some 29,000 maternal deaths, enabling over 20 million people to access contraception, and averting more than 3.6 million unsafe abortions.

The House appropriations bill also includes numerous policy restrictions on abortion, including a version of the expanded Global Gag Rule announced by President Trump earlier this year.

“The House Appropriations Committee has chosen to follow the disastrous path that Trump paved. Their policies continue to be guided by politics, and the cost will be paid in women’s lives,” said Nina Besser Doorley, Senior Program Officer at the International Women’s Health Coalition.

Photo: Constantin Gross.