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ANALYSIS: US Foreign Aid Cuts, Closer to Reality, Would Devastate Women and Girls

Earlier this yr, President Trump used his fiscal yr 2018 budget request to take purpose at international priorities, outlining draconian, ideologically pushed cuts with the potential to decimate US packages that promote women’s health and rights. Last night time, the funding debate moved to Congress, the place the Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives voted to advance a bill with $10 billion in proposed cuts that might have devastating impacts on women and women and US international management.

The House State and Foreign Operations Appropriations invoice offers $47.four billion in funding for the State Department and associated businesses and packages; this represents a 17 % minimize from present funding ranges and a 14 % discount of State Department funding. Within that, the laws consists of some $eight.32 billion for international health spending, about $400 million under present funding ranges.

While international leaders take action to safe efficient household planning as a way in the direction of women’s empowerment, this invoice locations a cap on household planning and reproductive health spending at $461 million—a $146.5 million discount that might stroll funding for these important packages again to 2008 ranges. While much less dangerous than the Trump Administration’s request to zero out this funding, these cuts would significantly undermine US efforts to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights and scale back maternal mortality around the globe. During final night time’s finances deliberations, Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) launched an modification that might have restored present funding ranges for household planning/reproductive health spending, however the modification failed by six votes.

The House invoice crowns these bilateral reproductive-health funding reductions with the elimination of all funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the most important worldwide supplier of contraception, household planning, and different reproductive health providers. Although the Trump Administration already announced that it might withhold contributions to UNFPA over false allegations concerning the group’s work in China, the House invoice takes that a step additional by legislatively prohibiting any US dollars from going to UNFPA. By chopping off funds to UNFPA, the United States is undermining its personal pursuits in addition to inflicting untold injury to the health and rights of women worldwide. With operations in additional than 100 nations the place the US Agency for International Development (USAID) doesn’t run household planning packages and serving a big feminine refugee inhabitants fleeing battle and sexual violence, UNFPA is a crucial distributer of household planning providers and reproductive health care. The elimination of US funding will significantly impair UNFPA’s international work, which in 2016 included stopping some 29,00zero maternal deaths, enabling over 20 million individuals to entry contraception, and averting greater than three.6 million unsafe abortions.

Furthering assaults on women’s health and rights, the House appropriations invoice additionally consists of quite a few coverage restrictions on abortion, together with a model of the expanded Global Gag Rule announced by President Trump earlier this yr. Echoing the Trump coverage, the House invoice legislatively blocks international health funding from going to any overseas nongovernmental group that gives abortion providers, referrals, or counseling, or that advocates for abortion. Trump and the House Appropriations Committee are enjoying politics with women’s lives and forcing healthcare suppliers to select between providing a complete set of providers and receiving US authorities funding.

Amendments, provided by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY), sought to strike each the Global Gag Rule language and the ban on UNFPA funding. Unfortunately, the amendments failed by close to get together line votes; Representative Charlie Dent (R-PA) was the lone Republican to vote in favor of each.

In addition to attacking reproductive health, the House appropriations invoice continues the Trump Administration’s concentrating on of multilateralism, notably with respect to US contributions to the United Nations and UN businesses. The House reduces funding for contributions to worldwide organizations—the account from which the United States pays its UN and World Health Organization dues—by about $200 million (a roughly 15 % minimize). Even worse, the invoice zeroes out funding for UN businesses, together with UN Women and the UN Development Program (UNDP), although it does keep funding for UNICEF by way of a separate price range line. The elimination of US contributions would undermine the power of those UN businesses to do their crucial work.

On the constructive aspect, the House Appropriations invoice soundly rejects President Trump’s proposal to get rid of Development Assistance funding and to as an alternative create an “Economic and Development Support Fund.”  IWHC and others strongly opposed this Trump proposal, which might have moved dollars from a funding mechanism designed to enhance the lives of males, women, and youngsters all over the world into one that’s primarily meant to help the financial and strategic pursuits of the United States—a elementary shift. The House Committee’s report states that “there is merit to consolidating certain accounts,” however, within the absence of evaluation of Trump’s proposal by each the Administration and by Congress, it “deferred the decision.”

In some key areas, funding was maintained. Financing of HIV work remained roughly in keeping with present ranges, with the draft invoice offering $6 billion for HIV packages, together with $1.35 million for the United States’ contribution to the Global Fund to Fight HIV, AIDS, TB, and Malaria. Within that topline HIV funding quantity, the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) packages acquired $four.four billion, and one other $330 million went to USAID’s HIV packages. This funding degree, whereas nonetheless brief of what’s wanted to really finish the HIV epidemic, would no less than be sure that necessary prevention, care, remedy, and analysis can proceed. It is essential that assets proceed to movement into evidence-based packages at PEPFAR, together with the DREAMS Initiative, which focuses on stopping HIV amongst younger women in sub-Saharan Africa; women and younger women on this area account for 74% of all new HIV infections amongst younger individuals.

With the invoice now set to transfer to the complete House of Representatives for consideration, and with Senate appropriators but to finalize their very own model of the laws, IWHC urges Congress to take away dangerous coverage riders, restore funding for reproductive health, and absolutely fund the overseas affairs finances. Supporting reproductive health does greater than enhance women’s health: it helps to create the circumstances that permit women and women to make selections about and have management over their lives. Cutting off entry to contraceptives would hinder women’ and women’s schooling and undermine their capacity to earn sustainable incomes and take part actively in society.

Photo: Eric B. Walker

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