By Maya Palit
After Trump came to power, there was much talk of how his anti-abortion order in January, limiting US funding to international reproductive healthcare NGOs involved in performing or providing information about abortions, would impact women around the world. And now it’s happened: on Monday, the US cut back on all its funding to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), which provides assistance to family planning initiatives in over 150 countries, and also supports fistula surgeries, prevents unsafe abortions and deaths during childbirth.
According to a statement released by the UNFPA, the justification for the decision is made on ‘unfounded claims’ and dodgy research, which suggests that the UNFPA supports or participates in involuntary sterilisation and forced abortions in China, although there is no evidence that these practices are linked to the UNFPA.
Unsurprisingly, public health experts like the International Women’s Health Coalition’s Director of Advocacy and Policy Shannon Kowalsi declared that this decision would have ‘devastating consequences’ for women, particularly those in crisis situations, as for instance in Syria or Jordan, where apparently the US funded maternity wards for women in refugee camps. If the UNFPA’s representation of figures is accurate, the decision means that at least 48000 women seeking support for safe childbirth in Syria will not be assisted this year.