President Donald Trump’s administration defunded a crucial global maternal health organization this week, and justified the move by accusing the group of supporting abortions and forced sterilization in China.
But the United Nations Population Fund doesn’t actually fund, support or administer abortions or sterilization procedures, said Sarah Craven, the program’s director. The core mission of UNFPA is to ensure that marginalized women get adequate access to maternal health care so that they can deliver healthy babies in a dignified way. The U.S. helped found the organization in 1969.
If the Trump administration follows through with its plan to pull $76 million from UNFPA, the organization would lose about 7 percent of its budget and be forced to shutter some maternal health clinics and stop offering certain health care services in areas facing humanitarian crises ― something that could put the lives of thousands of women and unborn children at risk. This is particularly of concern in Syria, which is reeling from both a deadly chemical attack earlier this week and a U.S. airstrike that was waged in response to it.
Image: Syrian twins Malak and Ahmad are seen during a ceremony that UNFPA held in March 2016 to celebrate the birth of 5,000 babies with no maternal deaths at Al Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. Muhammad Hamed/Reuters.