New York–The International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) is deeply alarmed by President Trump’s first full budget proposal for 2018, which eliminates programs providing critical support for reproductive health. These cuts are part of an over $2 billion reduction to global health funding, which will diminish a range of critical initiatives, including the US’s hallmark HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment program, PEPFAR.
“The Trump Administration’s budget is a wholesale attack on the women and girls most in need of health services, both in the United States and around the world,” said Françoise Girard, President of IWHC. “By cutting all support for family planning and reproductive health this budget privileges ideology and undermines evidence-based programs that have saved women’s and girls’ lives.”
As the largest funder of reproductive health services globally, the United States currently supports access to contraceptives for more than 26 million women. According to the Guttmacher Institute, this support alone prevents 8 million unintended pregnancies, 3.3 million induced abortions (most of them unsafe) and 15,000 maternal deaths every year.
Today’s budget is the latest in a string of attacks on women and girls. Since taking office, President Trump has targeted sexual and reproductive health and rights by expanding the Global Gag Rule to apply to all global health funding and by cutting off funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). If adopted, today’s budget would gut vital health care services.
“Congress should scrap the cruel Trump budget and instead put forward a spending proposal that will save lives, maintain progress toward global development goals, and restore US leadership on women’s health and rights,” said Girard.
The cuts to global health come in the context of a devastating reduction of over 32 percent to the budgets of USAID and the State Department, which would both undermine US development and security priorities and further erode US global leadership. Among the cuts is the apparent elimination of US contributions to critical United Nations agencies, such as UN Women and the UN Development Program (UNDP). The proposed budget would also reduce US dues to the UN and the World Health Organization, as well as for UN peacekeeping operations. The Administration’s proposal runs counter to the global consensus of prioritizing women’s rights to build a more equitable world, as laid out in the Sustainable Development Goals, to which the US is committed.
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Photo: Arne Hoel / World Bank.