U.S. Blasts UNFPA Support for China’s Birth Control Policy

By Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D. | September 8, 2017

NEW YORK, September 8 (C-Fam) The United States blasted the UN Population Fund on Thursday for supporting China’s four decades-long birth control policy, which has led to human rights abuses such as forced abortions. The censure came as the agency unveiled its new three-year plan which promoted policies on sexuality which UN member States have expressly rejected in negotiations.

“As long as UNFPA supports or participates in any program of coercive birth limitation, the United States will not fund UNFPA,” U.S. deputy ECOSOC ambassador Stephanie Amadeo said.

The United States withdrew $32.5 million in funding from UNFPA earlier this year, but continues to spend about $600 million a year on family planning and remains on the UNFPA’s executive board. Amadeo said the $32 million will be transferred to the U.S. Agency for International Development’s family planning, maternal, and reproductive health activities.

The strategic plan—meant to guide the agency’s spending, programs, partnerships and advocacy in the next three years—calls for giving children as young as ten years of age “comprehensive” and “integrated” access to “youth-friendly” “sexual and reproductive health services,” a term that some UN staff use to include abortion and sex change therapy.

The plan uses the terms “sexual and reproductive health and rights” and “sexual and reproductive health services” thirteen times in the thirty-page document. Delegations have rejected the phrases on the grounds that they include abortion and special rights on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Western nations like Norway and New Zealand used Thursday’s meeting to endorse greater emphasis on sexual and reproductive health and pledged to fund it. Norway said it “fully endorsed” the plan.

The plan includes “comprehensive sexuality education” for adolescents and children, though it falls outside UNFPA’s mandate. The UN General Assembly has rejected the term in negotiations because it promotes curricula approving sexual activity for children as young as five years old, as well as endorsing abortion and homosexual behaviors irrespective of national laws and without parental consent.

In fact UNFPA’s mandate, as set out in the outcome document from the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994, is limited to advancing “age-appropriate sex-education” with “appropriate direction and guidance from parents and legal guardians.”

The new plan sets forth UNFPA’s goal to “eliminate barriers” that limit access to services, including for adolescents and youth. It does not specify what these barriers are, nor does it safeguard parental rights.

The plan says UNFPA aims to “end preventable maternal deaths.” It does not list abortion even though complications from induced abortion are often classified as a cause of maternal deaths.  Because “unsafe” abortions are often linked to “illegal abortions” by UN agencies, countries are frequently pressured to liberalize their abortion laws in order to prevent maternal deaths.

To the contrary, nations agreed in 1994 that abortion was a scourge to be healed, calling on countries to help women avoid it, get treatment from its complications, and never use it as a method of family planning. They also agreed that countries have the right to determine their own standards on abortion.

Almost all countries commended UNFPA’s plan, praising the “transparent” and “collaborative” process that led to this draft, without criticism. Most urged more prudent spending. Several called on UNFPA to give greater respect to the principle of state ownership of programs. They called for national implementations of the plan that are consistent with, and respectful of state specificities, priorities, and sovereignty.

China revised its statement after the U.S. delegate spoke, adding to its original text that the U.S. was making “unwarranted accusations” and “just finding excuses.”